Walter Lee Davis on 25 Jul 2007 18:03:10 -0000

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Re: [PhillyOnRails] Resume advice

I think you may be selling yourself short if you approach being a developer as something you need formal training in in order to excel. If you've been working in Rails and Django and Plone, my goodness, you have the street cred to go anywhere and do anything. My own "real" training is as a photographer, and that hasn't kept me out of too many jobs along the way.

What you probably haven't been doing is getting paid a lot to do it (cough, non-profit, cough), which may be where your insecurity is coming from here.

I would recommend a simple chronological resume of your education and work experience, probably nothing all that different from what you already have.

Then make a second document which breaks out the projects you have worked on, listing their business objectives, the systems you built to achieve those objectives, and the tools you used along the way. Don't forget the results! Think of these as Keynote slides, simple bullet-points etc. to outline each case study and leave them hungry for more.

Anything that is live and public, put in a link. Anything that isn't, at least put some screenshots, or even better, a screen movie showing some interaction with the application.

If you squint at it hard enough, even the most desperately non-profit technology application can be made analogous to a commercial one. The trick is in how you look at it, who you define as the customer, what sort of "profit" your application was able to make, etc.

Hope this helps,


On Jul 25, 2007, at 1:31 PM, John-Scott Atlakson wrote:

Hello all,

I've been working for a non-profit for the last couple of years, in which time I've taught myself web development using RoR (of course), but also Zope/Plone (not my choice) and Django. I'm now looking to transition into the for-profit world so I have a fighting chance at handling my impending student loan payments.
I'm a bit embarrassed to say I've never put together a 'professional' resume before and I'm unsure what's the expected way to present my skills. Previous resumes were just simple single-page overviews of my work history to indicate I wasn't a bum. But now I want to present myself specifically as a web developer. Should I list each site I've worked on and have bulleted highlights of what I did? Or is that TMI for a resume? Or should that info be factored out into a 'portfolio' (and what would a portfolio look like in contrast to a resume)?
I don't have a CS or relevant degree (BA in philosophy, so lucrative), so I'm probably aiming for a 'junior developer' territory to get my foot in the door (just mentioning it if that should be a factor in how I pitch things). Anyone willing to volunteer a resume for a guiding example? I really get stumped when it comes time to toot my own horn, but I need to get over that soon ;)

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