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I'm a developer (edit: I should clarify I also do SysAdmin, game design, etc) and hobby projects are a huge part of the industry. Should I add my hobby projects to my resume, and if so how do I format/word it?

For example, I've:

  • Running and developing a MUD for 10+ years
  • Contributed code to reddit
  • Run my own LAMP server for specific users
  • Developed a Spiceworks plugin

And if I'm to list these, am I expected to link to the project? For example, the MUD is based on an existing IP I don't have rights to so I get dubious in that regard. (I don't make money off it)

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  1. 1'd create a github repository and store the code there (*)

  2. In the README.md file, I'd list the apps and give a short description of each app as well as instructions on how to run it.

  3. I'd create a link in the resume to the github. I'd call the link "Contributions to Open Source" or something like that.

Done.

(*) In response to the OP's comment that the MUD game is not open sourced:

Exclude the MUD from the github. You can mention it in your cover letter and in your interviews in the same breath that you say you are not outsourcing it. However, you should be able to come across as knowledgeable about MUD implementation issues and trade-offs. And coming across as knowledgeable would establish your credibility without you having to disclose your source code.

  • Hm. The MUD isn't open-source at all nor is there any plan to for the near future. – Zeno Jul 2 '14 at 23:52
  • I've seen some resumes with "Opensource" or "Github" sections with give a link to the repos, and then a quick blurb about projects the person is active in. – sevensevens Aug 3 '14 at 17:56
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In general, treat the projects as jobs. On the resume, create a section for personal projects, and include:

  • Name of project or software product
  • Organization (if applicable) that the project was for
  • Description of the project and your work on it.
  • time range of contribution
  • Any reference you can provide to it - URL, github respository - what ever options you can give to let a reviewer access it.

As a resume reader, I don't generally look for examples of the work when we're talking about paid-for job - because I realize that so much of a person's work may not be publicly available. I have, however, googled for the company to see what the business is about.

But personal projects are both under the applicant's control, and also wildly variable. So if I think of the project as a great example of good work, I actually go and look at what I can. Which means that good code, either in execution (like when I visit the MUD) or in a repository, will leave a good impression. And bad code will leave a negative impression.

My strongest recommendation is - don't share a work in progress that will leave a poor impression. For example, getting a tech writing sample from a writer with poor/inconsistent layout, bad grammar, and bugs in the HTML will be worse than no sample at all. Same goes for code - if your website is buggy, if your code is a horror to read, etc... I'm going to be concerned about your judgement.

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From my experience hobby projects are not really counted as professional experience, or even experience at all, by employers - at least in Finland, where only professional work is counted. Maybe the requirements are less strict in other countries.

So I would say it depends on the general views in your region. There can be differences even within a given country but different locations.

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That's something you should definitely do.

Hobby projects shows you are considering development as more than a job, not someone constantly checking the clock to pack up and leave at 6 PM. You enjoy what you are doing and you are open to learn new technologies. That's the number one thing both hiring managers and Development Team Leaders are looking for, even comes in front of work experience on so many occasions.

In fact, you should create a professional website or portal which shows all your hobby projects, at least demos of them, with code samples.

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