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I'm a junior software engineer. I have a one page resume with a second page crammed with a few previous work projects and then a link to my github profile.

Since I did not get good grades in school I want to emphasise my practical work. Is it advisable to include descriptions of projects in the resume itself? Or is it better to.make an extra document? Also how many pages are advisable?

Thank you for your help in this matter.

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Firstly, don't make a separate document. Developers don't generally have "portfolios" for job applications: either something is worth listing on your resume, or it's not.

More important, I'd say, is how you list the projects. Don't describe the project; describe your involvement. I don't care about half a dozen open source projects and the arbitrary problems they're designed to solve, but I do care that you made a thing 25% faster, or redesigned a UI to be touch-friendly, or found and fixed a critical security bug.

Your resume isn't about who you worked for, or what you worked on: it needs to show what you can demonstrably deliver. Sometimes - very occasionally - it's enough to say "I am great because this company that you recognise as great have hired me and promoted me and kept me for years" - but there aren't many jobs like that. Concentrate on highlighting what you have delivered.

As for length: this can vary by region. I'm from the UK, and I'd expect 2-3 pages for a resume - probably only 2 for a junior. But present it well: don't cram it all in.

  • How much would you downplay the value of open source contributions? Personally I'd much rather work with a 25 year old who has a github account than a 40 year old who has never written a line of code outside office hours. – user2675345 Apr 2 '14 at 18:46
  • I would certainly list them - they are important, and a visible record of your coding standard that a recruiter can view before the interview - but again, list what you've done as opposed to what the project is. I'd much rather someone have done something fantastic in an unheard-of project, than have done something mundane in OpenOffice. But also: remember that "code outside office hours" isn't the same as "code on GitHub." I've got loads of code at home that isn't publicly available. – Dan Puzey Apr 3 '14 at 10:40
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You should always try to describe the projects you have worked previously. Most of the time during interviews they will ask about the project you worked previously.

Make sure you mention things in which you are most comfortable for example if you worked only on the backend coding do special emphasis on that.

Their are millions of great programmers in the world who didn't get good grades in school so don't feel shy on that instead present your strengths and skills more positively.

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Dan answered quite well.

Building a nice resume when you lack years of experience can be a bit of a challenge. If you break it down into the different positions that you have held can be extremely detrimental. If you consistently advanced with the company and it is in your field than that might be a good option otherwise you will want to make a skills summary essentially.

The way it should look like is as follows:

  • Research and Development

    I am experienced with researching and developing tools utilizing Java including Graphical User Interfaces for APIs, data compilation and distribution. I have performed the lead on all operations of the Software Development Life Cycle for these tools including the planning and conception phases, proof of concept development, demo/sales presentation to management and development of final product and long term support.

    These tools have been highly regarded among my peers and has drastically increase the productivity in my department as a whole and led to me being nominated for a Distinguished Service Award after 4 months with the company and awarded the 'Most Technical' award for my department in 2013.

  • Next Skill

    I am experienced with x utilizing y. I am in the process of developing a utility that will z. Here is some details on what the project does, make sure that you hit the keywords for the job function (IE, User experience(UX), GUI, make sure you type out and abbreviate to hit the keywords correctly). Here would be the type of system it is, again remember the keywords. And this is what the end results was from the project and what it was so awesome.

Ultimately, avoid things like dates. Put the information in that shows you have experience with what you know well. Ultimately, you will need to add in dates for your previous work/school experience but that can be at the bottom of the resume after you have your hooks in them. After that it comes down to the interview.

  • Many companies want to know that you have a solid work record in recent history (5-10 yrs) and will require those dates. – user8365 Apr 1 '14 at 19:05

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