Side projects are the new resume
Applying for jobs can make you feel old, especially in the tech world. No one cares about your resume anymore. Hardly anyone asks where you went to college. And where years ago you would have proudly touted this or that achievement, these days the bigger question is what you’re working on right now, outside of work.
The one thing people really want to see? What you’ve built.
If you’re a software engineer, you should be hacking at projects, building apps, websites, and tinkering away at things you love to build outside of work.
If you’re a designer, design your dream product, even if it doesn’t exist yet. Or find a developer and make it happen.
If you’re a product manager, it’s your job to think about products and have an opinion on them. Consult for someone in need of product strategy, and start validating hypotheses. Brush up your Photoshop skills and work on wireframes and mockups for early-stage products; improve your programming skills by building an MVP.
Marketer? You should be blogging. Heck, everyone on this list should be blogging. Go ahead and start a newsletter, too.
The point is, it’s not enough to list your qualifications on a resume and expect your future boss to call you up swooning. Very few people can effectively communicate skill and passion in a bullet point; most employers tend to skip whole sections of resumes entirely. (And you spent so much time fiddling with those margins! I know, I know.) These days employers are more likely to know you better after googling you than reading your resume. They’ll get a good snapshot of your interests and personality through what you’re working on, and maybe even click around.
So do yourself a favor and make it easy for them to find your side project online. That’ll take you a lot farther than the ole ball and chain resume would.