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The question:

How to present a long period of time in which you have been working on your own projects, trying out technologies and implementing things you "always wanted" to do?

Context:

As software developer, I quit last job because I realized I could not reach my potential as programmer there, as project quality was poor and managers had no intention of improving it.

I did learn though all the technical knowledge I lacked, and decided to do something about it.

That was 13 months ago, time I filled with many hours of reading and implementing, researching and playing with the new technologies.

During that time, I did several things that I think are interesting in my field: a custom php framework, a project using different design patterns, etc.

These practices, when studying under a program (University, paid courses, etc), look great in your resume. But when you do it on your own, it turns not to be that easy to show it as an interesting time inversion.

How can these studies be presented in a resume?

marked as duplicate by IDrinkandIKnowThings, enderland, Monica Cellio, Michael Grubey, CMW Apr 7 '14 at 8:58

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • @JoeStrazzere Thanks for replying. I will updated the question answering your questions. – Mr Me Apr 4 '14 at 15:08
  • @Chad I did read that one before asking this. There is, I think, a big difference between a "travelling" gap and a "studying" gap. I am making this question as the gap is field-related, while travelling is not. – Mr Me Apr 4 '14 at 15:37
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    The answers are the same... you just will have an easier time explaining it in a way that doesnt look like you just decided not to work for a year. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 4 '14 at 15:44
  • No, the answers are not the same. Check Zibbobz answer, for instance: workplace.stackexchange.com/a/22150/14462 – Mr Me Apr 4 '14 at 15:47
  • I do not understand this need to put all gaps inside the same category. Travel gaps, university studies and personal projects are just different type of gaps and need different approaches, and therefore different answers. – Mr Me Apr 4 '14 at 16:13
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The most honest way to present them would be to call them what they are - personal projects.

There's no shame in carrying out personal projects - and if they are relevant to your work, they are relevant to your resume. Get out some documentation from these projects and, if they don't already have them, give them proper names and timeframes in which you performed them, listing everything you've accomplished during that project. If you don't have documentation, now is the time to make some.

This still isn't going to look as good as solid work experience though - you could try to play off the experience as being 'privately employed' (as I did while trying to describe side-projects I had worked on for people while looking for full-time work), but you might then be tasked to bring up your bugetary practices, and to admit that the projects were really just personal interest activities (Or were they? If they were actual budgeted projects and had some business application, you could play off of that!)

While certified college studying is usually better to put on a resume, you can still get away with calling this "skill set development" or something similar, as an explanation for why you began these projects. Try to frame it, as you have here, as recognizing key areas that you lacked proper skill in, and set out to improve through self-regulated exercises. But be careful to clarify that they are improvements on job-related skills. You don't want to give the impression that this was all a personal project that you quit your job for - that's the last thing an employer wants to hear their employee would do.

If pressed to explain why you left your previous company, you might cite work relation issues, and a desire to find a more challenging project, which sounds a little better.

Ultimately though, quitting any job will carry a little stigma, and you'll have to find some way to reflect that in a positive light.

  • This is a great answer! You definitely understood my situation. I think you are 110% right in the documenation of those projects, did not even think about it. – Mr Me Apr 4 '14 at 15:46
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Let me give you the perspective of a hiring manager looking at a 13-month gap. I will first wonder why your last job ended:

  • If you told me you were fired, I'd wonder for what reason. And I'd look at 13 months of non-employment, and think that it must've been really bad.

  • If you told me you quit, I'd again wonder for what reason. Then seeing 13 months of non-employment, I'd think you had no drive.

13 months is a long time to "self-train" and "work on PHP Frameworks". Was there any other reason you took this much time off? You'll most definitely be asked about this. Family reasons? You don't want to say "I didn't like my last job, so I just quit".

  • Thanks for your point of view. Opinions like yours are what lead me to ask this. No, I was not fired. I was actually appreciated and I did appreciate them, but the realization that my potential was limited by the project itself and that there was "many things to learn" drove me to that gap, which is not only "work on a PHP Framework," but to make a website with it using what I have learned "best practices". – Mr Me Apr 4 '14 at 15:41
  • This is great stuff to be prepared to answer. – Garrison Neely Apr 4 '14 at 16:09
  • This contains has more of a comment and some clarifying questions than of an answer. It doesn't really address the question. – CMW Apr 7 '14 at 8:46
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How to present a long period of time in which you have been working on your own projects, trying out technologies and implementing things you "always wanted" to do?

You certainly have additional Skills/Competencies that you can list in your resume now.

And you could choose to have a "Personal Projects" or "Other Activities" section where these might be appropriate.

But I don't think I'd call attention to them as part of the reverse-chronological listing of your jobs. That's a gap that you are going to have to leave vacant, and be prepared to explain during an interview.

It's unfortunate that you chose to quit before finding your next job. As a long-time hiring manager, that's a big red flag for me. And that's something I advise my family and friends to avoid whenever possible. But that's behind you, so now you need to deal with it head on.

Your personal projects trying out things you "always wanted to do" cannot take the place of a gap in your job history. And attempting to fill in the gap in your resume will likely come across as disingenuous to me, if I were reviewing your resume.

Hopefully, the technologies you have added will be appealing to your potential employers, and they will bring you in for interviews in spite of the gap in employment. At that time, be prepared to explain why you quit, your thinking about how you chose to use the 13 months off, why you won't be inclined to quit on them, and if you now are able to learn new technologies while remaining employed. That approach will best serve your interests.

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