About 2 years ago, me and a couple of online friends decided to write our own flavor of Linux, based off of Debian. Up to that point, I had been a regular user of Debian, but had no "accredited" programming knowledge. I was basically self taught, but not proficient at all. I did however, have fat pockets from a previous job, and basically volunteered to bankroll the entire project (Website, Domain, Server Space, plus a few ads on the forum we frequented).

This meant that I was pretty much immediately bumped to a lead developer position. I was involved with basically everything, including some of the programming. I was admin of the IRC channel, the sub-reddit, and the website as well. Me, the chief programmer, and the founder made all the decisions, but me and the chief programmer ended up really taking control of the project's direction.

Eventually, we received a Cease and Desist letter from another company that had trademarks on the name we were using (I actually framed it, and it sits on my desk at home). Considering that we weren't even close to a company at that point, most people decided to just bail, and eventually I ended up taking everything down to avoid any legal issues. We ended up releasing a single .iso before everything fell apart.

My question is, how can I represent this on a resume? I put it on my resume for this summer, along the lines of "lead developer for project, but I feel like that implies that I did more work than I actually did. I did do some work, but I was more like a leading shareholder/sys admin rather than an actual programmer. I am currently working for a huge company this summer, and during my interview, one of the interviewers expressed a lot of interest in the project. He told me that he couldn't find a trace of it online, and I had to explain to him that we were in legal troubles and I took it down. He accepted that answer, and I still think that's one of the major reasons I got the job.

How can I better represent this on my resume? I don't want to lie, but I did actually learn things from this project, and it's resume gold for the undergrad like myself.

Edit: This is what I have currently on my resume

Developer for [Redacted] Linux distribution

March 2014 to October 2014

• Lead developer for custom Linux distribution and repository

• Funded and developed [Redacted] website

• Familiarity with website design using HTML and CSS

• Proficient in Linux usage

It's actually been a long time since I updated this description, so it's even a little more vague than I though. I want to focus on the fact that I led development. Should I include the fact that I shut it down?

  • 3
    What did you learn during that project that will help you with your future jobs? More importantly, what did you learn during that project that will help future resume readers identify you as a viable candidate?
    – corsiKa
    Jul 23, 2015 at 16:10

4 Answers 4


I put it on my resume for this summer, along the lines of "lead developer for project,

You are leaving a lot out, most of what you listed are valuable in different degrees including your sub-reddit management and IRC management, these skills really show the 'Lead' since it takes more than just programming to Lead.

Lead Developer, Co-Founder, Producer : [Project]

  • Administered Subreddit, Website, and IRC channel.
  • [programmed some feature]
  • [took over some position to push the project further]

Show the non programming tasks, highlight those but also flavor it with some of the coding things you are proud of as well. This shows you can both Lead (with versatility) and Develop, and that's exactly what it takes to be a Lead Developer.

  • 2
    To me, lead developer and chief programmer are nearly synonymous. If there was already a chief programmer who was actually the lead developer, then the OP was really something else.
    – Eric
    Jul 23, 2015 at 20:06
  • 1
    It doesn't matter the title, the important thing is what he did as said task. It's fine to put what your title was at said company on the resume though.
    – user37925
    Jul 23, 2015 at 20:17

You are describing a "Project Lead", "Project Manager" or "Technical Project Manager" role. You are not describing a lead developer role. A lead developer is one that actually writes (significant amounts of) code, sets the design and possibly architectural direction for any code written, influences or defines style choices and other practices.

As BinaryBazooka says, you also played a "Co-Founder" role in getting the project off the ground and moving.

I would suggest calling yourself Co-Founder and Project Manager and focusing more on those details. Those are the skills that would make you attractive for a similar project leadership role where you are not expected to make significant direct technical contributions. If you sell yourself as a lead developer and people want to hire you for that role, the disconnect with your actual skills will likely prevent you from getting those roles.


Go ahead and list it on your resume as Lead Developer. Describe your responsibilities as much as you can in your resume format. In the interview process, they will be able to tell whether you have what they need for the position they are trying to fill.

Job titles are somewhat subjective, which is why interviews are still so popular in screening candidates. ;)

  • Job titles are subjective but a lead developer is expected to develop, not just project manage.
    – Eric
    Jul 23, 2015 at 17:36

I'd go ahead and list it. There's so much variation between titles across different companies there's no one-size-fits-all. I've seen "Senior Developers" that can barely code their way out of a paper bag and "Developers" that have the skills to be "Junior Architects".

The key thing I look for are roles/responsibilites/accomplishments. Based off of those; I can get a rough idea of where you really are.

  • There's a big difference between senior developers and lead developers.
    – Eric
    Jul 23, 2015 at 17:38
  • 2
    That's exactly my point. The responsibilities define the job. What one company calls a senior another would consider a lead; and vice versa.
    – Jim B
    Jul 23, 2015 at 18:25

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