After graduating, I started self-teaching myself SQL using Codecademy and books. I've listed this on my resume in a way that implies I'm not very experienced with the language but am familiar with it. I'd like a way to show employers my SQL skills more directly.

Standard advice to show employers your skills is to create projects or portfolios. Here's where my problem lies: I have no idea what the format is for these. Considering that I'm dealing SQL, I can't just build a website or app to show what I know. I'm assuming that projects in a portfolio involve more than just a document of plain code. Or is that all there is to it?

  • Given that SQL is more of a supporting back-end technology for broader applications, it's a bit difficult to show specific 'portfolio' type examples of SQL usage. You might then want to start looking more into overall structures and patterns of how database systems are setup, right from a small personal website to a large enterprise web-application. Understanding these design decisions and what makes sense in what context is more in-line with what you would want to show employers I think. – pay Aug 31 '16 at 17:30
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    Github is a excellent way to create a portfolio of your code. You can easily share it too and almost everyone knows what github is. – Dan Aug 31 '16 at 19:19
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    Can you explain why you want to build a portfolio? What is wrong with getting a job with your college education? – nvoigt Sep 1 '16 at 7:40
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    @nvoigt There's plenty of companies that are looking to hire the best. Even straight out of undergrad, they want to see actual projects. Maybe they don't have a tech background. OP doesn't need to explain why to you. – Hobbes Sep 1 '16 at 14:33
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    @Lilienthal OP doesn't have work experience, and as you said, in that circumstance a portfolio is helpful. You are also wrong about portfolios in IT. For example, anyone hiring a data scientist will want to see actual projects. – Hobbes Sep 1 '16 at 14:33

You can create a project on github or bitbucket, and use SQL in that project. You can show a couple of demos, maybe a test suite for some back-end feature, or another project that makes use of SQL. This doesn't have to have a particular goal, but should have a "narrative" about what you're trying to do or show. Anyone can cut-and-paste code from elsewhere, so you need to show that you have a logical progression of ideas, and therefore couldn't have done that.

Both are free for this use case. It will only cost you time.


In the past I have had job applications where they wanted to see SQL Code. What they want to see is how you can utilize the data in the database. The Microsoft sample databases are a great tool for this.

Start out and create a business question based on the sample database. "How many of X or Y were sold on such and such a date to which buyers." Follow that up with the SQL code for how you would determine the answer to the business question. Get creative, think of the most complex questions or caculations that could be made of the data in the sample database, and write SQL to answer it.


I think in expounding on technical subjects where there's no front-end, you need to show:

  1. Problem domain
  2. Business rules
  3. Technical approach (EXACTLY how the implementation should work and why it's a good one. Enumerate some possible alternatives and explain why you didn't use them.)
  4. Solution

If you can cover the first three, the last is less relevant.

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