Including past projects on your resume shows potential employers concrete examples of your skills and experience, and can help you prove that you are a good fit for their company. Whether you are a student, a freelancer, or an experienced professional, listing projects on your resume can boost your chances of scoring interviews and potentially getting hired.
This article will cover when you should include projects on your resume, types of projects that you can include, and some tips and examples for how to list your projects effectively.
Should You Include Projects On Your Resume?
Adding projects to your resume can be helpful in a few key situations, such as if you are a student or recent graduate without much professional experience, if you are a freelancer whose work experience is entirely project-based, or if you are traditionally employed and have worked on some impressive projects in the course of your career.
Listing projects on your resume can also be helpful if you are making a career change, as you can highlight relevant projects that you worked on within past roles as well as volunteer, freelance, or other external projects. This allows you to showcase transferable skills that will be useful in your target role.
If you have plenty of professional industry experience, skills, and achievements to cover on your resume, you may not need to include projects. Remember that your resume should be one page if you have less than 10 years of experience and no more than two pages if you have more experience than that. So, if you don’t have space to include your projects after adding all of your other pertinent details, there’s no need to do so.
You can also list your projects on your LinkedIn or your portfolio website and include those links on your resume. That way, the employer will likely get the same information, but you won’t have to use up valuable resume space. Additionally, you can go over your projects with a potential employer in an interview.
Types of Projects To List On a Resume
There are three main different types of projects to consider listing on your resume: freelance projects, traditional employment projects, and academic projects.
If you are a freelancer, it can be much more impressive to frame your work experience in terms of projects that you’ve worked on rather than simply saying that you’ve been a freelancer for several years. For example, if you are a freelance writer, you might want to include several projects that showcase your various specialties, like technical writing, creative writing, copywriting, email campaign creation, and so forth.
It can be most effective to create a functional resume to showcase your freelance work, which focuses more on skills and projects than the chronology of your work experience.
You can include a projects section instead of a work experience section to list your most impressive tasks. Include the project name, the company you worked for, your role, the duration, and up to five bullet points that outline your contributions to the project and highlight your skills.
Example of Freelance Projects on a Resume:
Project 1: Created a New Branding Package for ABC Consulting – Graphic Designer
Duration: 2 months
Technologies Used: Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, Dreamweaver
- Revamped tired logo and brand guidelines with an entirely new clean, modern package
- Came in under budget for the client and completed the work well before the deadline of three months
- New branding has led to a 25% increase in sales in the last 3 months
Traditional Employment Projects
It can also be beneficial to list projects that are part of your traditional employment role. Doing so can provide real-world examples of how you have applied your skills and expertise to accomplish things.
Reverse chronological resumes are often the best option for those with plentiful professional work experience. You can easily add your projects by adding a “key projects” line after the bullet points below each of your positions. Write a couple of brief sentences that describe the project, what you contributed, and the successful outcome.
Example of Traditional Employment Projects on a Resume:
XYZ Solutions, San Antonio, TX
May 2018 – present
- Brought in 20+ new accounts each quarter
- Performed 50+ cold calls per day with 2.5% conversion rate
Key Projects: Worked closely with company’s IT team to streamline the lead-generating system, which increased sales rate by over 20% and grew profits by $750,000 in one year.
If you are a student or a recent graduate, you may not have any professional work experience to showcase, but you can absolutely highlight your academic projects and accomplishments. You can add your projects to your education section with bullet points under your school entries, or you can create a separate section for key projects or relevant coursework.
Consider including big class projects, honors or capstone projects, your thesis, research projects, internships, and so forth. For each one, describe the project and quantify the results if possible – include impressive grades that you earned, distinctions, and so forth.
If you are relying heavily on your academic accomplishments to flesh out your resume, you might also wish to include details like your GPA, latin honors, other awards or honors that you’ve earned, publications, the degree that you’ve earned or are pursuing, and your graduation date.
Remember that if you are already in college or have graduated from college, you do not need to include your high school information. But, if you are currently in high school or if high school is your highest level of education, you can include that information. And, once you’ve landed your first full-time position, you can remove your academic projects from your resume and focus on your professional achievements. The only exception to this would be if you are applying to a role in academia and your academic projects are relevant to your target position.
Example of Academic Projects on a Resume:
Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design
UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
Anticipated Graduation Date: Spring 2022
Key Projects: Completed capstone project in Fall 2021 semester. Created a branding package for a spec company that included a logo, website, letterhead, and branding guidelines. Earned a 98% on the project and passed with distinction.
Tips for Listing Projects on Your Resume
If you’ve decided that it makes sense to include projects on your resume, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Tailor Your Projects to Each Position
One of the best and easiest ways to boost your chances of scoring an interview is to take the time to tailor your resume to each position that you apply for, and this includes tailoring the projects you include. Read the job posting carefully and identify keywords that describe the skills and experience that the employer is looking for, and then use applicable keywords in your project descriptions.
Only include projects on your resume if they are relevant to the job that you are applying for. The entire project doesn’t have to be directly related to your target position, but be sure there are at least clearly transferable skills that you can showcase in the description.
Use Action Words, Numbers, and Problem-Action-Result Formula
When you are describing projects on your resume, be sure to use action words to add excitement and give your work a dynamic feel. Present the information with the problem-action-result (PAR) formula for extra impact – describe a problem that needed addressing, what you did about it, and how your efforts benefited the company.
For example, you might say that you “developed a new onboarding process that cut lead times by 25% and saved the company $50,000 per year.” In this case, the slow onboarding lead times were wasting money (problem), you developed a better process (action), and it decreased the lead time and saved money (result).
Whenever possible, quantify your project descriptions with numbers and data. Concrete numbers like the example above will be more impressive to a potential employer than simply saying that you “developed a new onboarding process to cut lead times and save money.”
Decide Where To List Your Projects
You can list your projects in your work experience section (or instead of your work experience section in a functional resume), in your education section, or in a separate projects section. Consider which location makes the most sense based on the nature of your projects and where that information will be the most impactful.
Use Consistent Formatting
No matter where you decide to list your projects on your resume, use formatting that is consistent with the rest of the document. Mirror the format of your other sections in terms of headings, subheadings, fonts, colors, and bullet points.
Add Links To Online Portfolios
In some cases, it can be more effective to show potential employers your projects rather than describe them. This is particularly true for creative and visual industries, like graphic design, photography, web design, illustration, and so forth. If you want to include these types of projects, add a hyperlink to your personal or portfolio website so employers can see and experience your work. You can also take a hybrid approach by describing your projects in one of the methods outlined above and hyperlinking the project title so employers can check it out if they wish.
Listing projects on your resume can be helpful whether you are a freelancer, a student or recent graduate, or a traditionally employed professional. Be sure to include only projects that are relevant or that showcase your transferable skills, and tailor your description of each project to match the employer’s desired qualifications. Quantify your project-based accomplishments with numbers and data whenever possible, and use action words and the PAR formula to make your projects impactful and exciting.
Not sure how to incorporate your projects into your resume? Consider using Jobseeker’s professional resume creation tool. You can enter in all of your information and easily swap between formats and layouts, which can help you discover where your projects will be most effectively presented. Then download your polished resume instantly and get started applying to your dream job!