I am preparing my resume for development jobs.

I have several self-taught skills that I need to add to my resume. I am not sure how to articulate these items on it. The only technical school I have is all hardware-related, from many years ago.

For example, I have self taught myself in HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, jQuery, JavaScript, Java and Android development. These are all skills that I am targeting for employment.

It is important that I can express that I can do these things because I am light on on-the-job experience but have many personal projects under my belt.

4 Answers 4


If your personal projects are:

  • Paid freelancing gigs
  • Volunteer stuff for non-profits
  • Contributions to a well-known open source project
  • At least reasonably popular releases on an app store like Google Play, for example
  • Side projects for any of your last jobs that used these technologies in a production environment

Then they're fair-game resume-fodder not only for your list of skills, but also for your experience/projects section.

If they're not, then it will be harder to display that you're actually competent in the technologies you list, but still doable. Even if you don't have it open sourced, making your code available to review by your prospective employers will go a long way to them considering you, despite your lack of formal experience. You can provide the code easily through sites like GitHub (it may also be worth annotating with something like DocBlock or Docco, and explaining why you did certain things the way you did).

When it comes to software development, what you know and have used -- and your ability to demonstrate your knowledge -- is more important than how you learned it. To developers, it's generally a given that you taught yourself the vast majority of languages and technologies that you use (it's part of the personality that's expected of good developers - the ability to learn and find resources without a formal structure or a teacher).

  • 1
    Thanks for your response! I believe most of my side projects can be built up. (e.g. website built for current company with login rights, database stuff, etc and also 30,000+ downloads on my apps in the Android Market). GitHub is a great idea, but since they have been side projects, my Code tends to be undisciplined--though effective. Another struggle on my resume is that I tend to be a jack of all trades. Good at all of that, expert level at none. I believe building up "adaptable" and "quick learner" is another big factor in my situation.
    – Eddie
    Jul 17, 2012 at 19:06
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    @Eddie - Why do you think that writting undisciplined code just because its a side project, is alright.
    – Donald
    Jul 18, 2012 at 17:35
  • Undisciplined, more in the way of --- duplicate. Mostly because a lack of education. If I can't figure something out I have to make due with what I know how to do. I definitely don't think its all right--but if it's what I have to d in certain instances to make something work... I would need to hope I can find an employee who appreciates my ability to think out side of the box with coding and my ability to adapt, and then hope they are willing to train me in certain areas.
    – Eddie
    Jul 19, 2012 at 15:56
  • @Eddie I can certainly understand what you mean, but I'm not that is a great excuse. Sure there are crunch times, and you have to implement a feature/fix in as little time as possible. But, usually, those types of fixes are harder to read-back at a later date. Jul 3, 2013 at 14:22
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    Borrow time with the 'quick and dirty' but make sure to pay down your 'technical debt' before if snowballs.
    – Chris
    Jul 7, 2015 at 6:32

On your resume, no one cares how you learned what you learned, they only care that you're proficient in your stated skills. List each of your projects, along with the technologies you've used, and (if possible) a link to the project source. They will evaluate your skills based on what you say you know, and then ask you questions based on what you purport to know.

Example listing:


Programmed back-end and front-end of website. Primary responsibilities included setting up secure transaction model for online store and creating mobile-friendly website. Spearheaded project to set up load balancer and caching engine, which resulted in a 10x increase in site responsiveness.

Technologies used: Javascript, jQuery, CSS, APC, memcached, Web Server Director Pro+ for load balancing

  • 2
    +1 Show what you've done with the skills; whether you're self-taught or took courses, if you didn't actually apply the skills (to give them something to evaluate) they probably don't care. Jul 17, 2012 at 18:54
  • 1
    leave the 'self-taught' out of the resume. that should come out during the interview, when they ask about your experience. tell them " I picked it up one day, worked hard, and became very skilled with :topic: which allowed me to create things like :example:"
    – acolyte
    Jul 17, 2012 at 19:36
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    "On your resume, no one cares how you learned what you learned, they only care that you're proficient in your stated skills" Ab. So. Lutely. I still expect people who took formal courses in XYZ to be able to show proficiency in a practical setting, just like I expect informally-taught people to do the same. In fact, I almost assume that everyone is self-taught in one aspect of technical proficiency or another (or eight or ten) because that's what a curious mind does. Say what you can do and prove it -- don't worry about where it comes from.
    – jcmeloni
    Jul 18, 2012 at 1:28
  • Being self-taught is incredibly valuable for programmers. It is a mindset employers find highly desirable, and though the resume is not the best place for this information, it is critical that you mention being self-taught in a job interview.
    – L0j1k
    Aug 3, 2015 at 5:10

HR and other non-technical people will first look for the necessary alphabet soup in your resume. Listing job experience makes their task easier (in their mind), but they may want additional explanation on other projects.

I don't care if you worked for a major tech company. If you can't sit down in front of a computer and show me something, you're not good enough. All the multiple-guess quizes, certifications, and bizare puzzles are not what you'll be doing on the job.

Also, get your references in order. You may have a degree and good grades, but letters of recommendation from professors who are strong in their field are priceless. It's not what you know; it's who knows what you know.

  • "It's not what you know; it's who knows what you know." Interesting take on the old adage. Feb 7, 2018 at 0:51

I have an entire section of my resume dedicated to skills that are important to the position. I simply denote the level of experience (Experienced, Advanced, Expert) for each skill. This is the first section on my resume, following contact info, since it is what the employers want to know. This puts it square in the middle of the front page of my resume and what employers refer to when looking to see if I have any experience in a skill.

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