I'm currently working on a website that's not-so-good. It has been for years and I'm hired as a contractor to improve it for 3 months.

What I'm worried about is when I do put it on my resume, even though I would have improved it by the end of the contract, it would still be an overall bad site due to its very structure.

Would it actually hurt to have a bad project in my resume that's not 100% my responsibility?

  • Please define what "not-so-good" means. It looks ugly ? It performs poorly ? No one visits it because you fail to reach the target audience ? You missed delivery deadline ? – Radu Murzea Aug 6 '14 at 11:35

You were paid to do what you could to improve the site over three months. You were never paid to totally overhaul the site in three months or less. As my favorite actor Clint Eastwood used to say in one of his Westerns "A man's got to know his limitations"

If you can discuss the shortcomings of the site intelligently and knowledgeably, you have nothing to worry about. And you shouldn't worry. Because the minute you start to worry about it, somebody is bound to think that you had something to do with that site being a disaster of a web site.

@jmort253 comments that "You could also add to this answer that avoiding placing the blame on others would be a good way to demonstrate that you're capable of remaining professional, even in the face of adversity."

My response: I didn't even think of the notion of placing the blame, because it was so obviously a legacy website. In fact, explicitly placing the blame has the unfortunate side effect of raising suspicions about you and your involvement. Why cut your nose to spite your face?

  • But will it affect the employer's mindset in a way that "This guy worked on a sucky site, he must not be a good developer" type of mindset"? The employer wouldn't know that the project was made years ago by someone else unless I do indicate so, which doesn't sound right in a resume. – Zaenille Aug 6 '14 at 4:24
  • @Zaenville How many lines does it take for you to state in your resume that you were paid to improve a legacy website? – Vietnhi Phuvan Aug 6 '14 at 4:29
  • You could also add to this answer that avoiding placing the blame on others would be a good way to demonstrate that you're capable of remaining professional, even in the face of adversity. – jmort253 Aug 6 '14 at 4:33
  • 2
    Also, how you describe this job can give future potential employers more context: "web developer for 3-month site overhaul; optimized CMS to reduce queries by 30% and improved page load time by 60%" gives knowledgeable interviewers plenty of clear context; and gives semi-knowledgeable interviewers a starting point in their own researches to understand what you did (and to ask you intelligent questions about same.) Plus: actual statistics. You'll send the business analysts into paroxysms of delight. – user22432 Aug 6 '14 at 4:42
  • That's a great suggestion @Leigh. Wording the job description correctly sounds like the best way to avoid negative thoughts from the employer. – Zaenille Aug 6 '14 at 4:47

Explain in your resume the specific problems you encountered when working on that site and how you addressed them and improved the site thereby. Just focus on what you did to make things better - if you go into details and specifics about that, it will look good.

It is unlikely that your own accomplishments would be diminished simply because there are other problems on the site that you were not able to address, or not given the opportunity to do so.

  • Why was this downvoted, I wonder? Makes sense to me (but what do I know). – Kazark Aug 9 '14 at 23:53
  • @Kazark - Of course it makes sense. It was downvoted because there is a someone who thinks it's clever to downvote because they don't like me, just two posts at a time, so it won't be called "serial downvoting'... – Vector Aug 10 '14 at 5:26

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