Over the years, I've had the chance to look through countless resumes and portfolios. I can't help but notice that many side-projects listed in those resumes aren't as polished as they could be. Incomplete features, buggy code, and lack of attention to detail - we've all seen these issues, and they might just be holding you back from landing your dream job. Now, imagine someone in charge of hiring comes across your resume and clicks on your side-project, only to find it incomplete. This experience may leave them questioning your ability to deliver quality work or your attention to details. While you might possess the necessary skills, an incomplete side-project can cast doubt on your commitment and professionalism. As a result, you might miss out on the opportunity to move forward in the hiring process, losing out to other candidates with more polished and impressive portfolios.
So, in this post, let's talk about a better approach: creating side-products instead of side-projects.
What's a side-product?
So, what exactly is a side-product, and how is it different from a side-project? Let's break it down.
A side-project is usually a pretty laid-back attempt at trying out new skills or tinkering with cool technologies. While it's an awesome way to learn and grow, it might not always be the best way to show off your skills, especially if the project isn't quite finished.
On the other hand, a side-product is a project that's treated like a real product, with the same level of care, dedication, and professionalism you'd put into something you'd use or even pay for. The key difference here is the mindset: you approach a side-product with the intention of making it a complete, functional, and polished piece of work, just like you would with a commercial product.
The focus on creating a high-quality product ensures that your side-product showcases your ability to deliver professional-grade work. It also demonstrates your attention to detail and commitment to delivering an excellent user experience. In essence, a side-product acts as a powerful testament to your skillset and dedication, helping you stand out in the highly competitive job market.
By investing the time and effort required to turn your side-project into a side-product, you're sending a clear message to potential employers: you have what it takes to create outstanding work, and you're willing to go the extra mile to ensure its success. In the end, this distinction can make all the difference in landing your dream job.
Key to create a killer side-product
Alright, let's talk about the must-have elements for crafting a top-notch side-product that'll turn heads:
User experience: Make sure your design is super intuitive and the functionality is smooth as silk. Nobody wants to use something that's frustrating or confusing, so put yourself in the user's shoes and aim for an enjoyable experience. You might say, I'm not a UX designer! That's ok, you can get inspiration with similar products on the market.
Performance: No one likes waiting for a slow website or app, so keep those load times snappy and optimize for different devices. It's all about giving your users a seamless experience, no matter where they're browsing from.
Accessibility: Keep in mind that not everyone interacts with technology in the same way. Make your product usable for users with disabilities by following accessibility best practices. I assure you, when you want to talk about your projects, accessibility is an ace in your hand.
Clean and maintainable code: Show off your coding skills by sticking to best practices and properly documenting your work. This not only demonstrates your expertise but also makes it easier for others (or future you) to dive in and understand your code.
Proper dummy data: Instead of using the same old image or repetitive placeholder content, spice things up with diverse and realistic data. This small touch can make your side-product feel much more authentic and relatable. Use tools like Faker, MSW, and JSON Server to create a useful API while you're developing. You can also choose from 100s of public APIs to have meaningful data on your side-product.
By focusing on these elements, you'll be well on your way to crafting an impressive side-product that showcases your skills and dedication. Trust me, it'll make a world of difference!
Size Doesn't Matter
You might be thinking you need a massive, insanely complex side-product to wow potential employers, but hold on a sec – let's rethink that. Truth is, a small, well-made side-product can be as much impressive. Here's why:
Quality over quantity: A small, thoughtfully designed side-product can say a lot about your skills and commitment. It's way better to show off a neat, well-executed project than an overly ambitious, half-finished one.
Keep it manageable: By focusing on a smaller side-product, you'll be more likely to see it through to the end and maintain top-notch quality. Plus, it's easier to plan your time and resources, which means you're more likely to end up with a polished final product.
Flex your creativity: A small side-product is your chance to show off your creative chops and problem-solving skills. It's all about thinking outside the box and coming up with cool solutions that fit within your project's scope, all while delivering a great user experience.
Easy to share: Small side-products are super digestible for potential employers who are checking out your portfolio. They can quickly get the gist, explore what you've built, and appreciate the awesomeness you've created.
Remember, when it comes to side-products, size doesn't always matter – it's all about the quality and love you put into it!
Showing Off Your Side-Products
Now that you've got an amazing side-product under your belt, it's time to show it off! Here's how to make your hard work stand out in your resume and portfolio:
Highlight the good stuff: Pick out the most impressive aspects of your side-products and put them front and center. Did you create a mind-blowing UI or solve a particularly tricky problem? Don't be shy about sharing your achievements!
Tell your story: Give some background about the development process, the challenges you faced, and the solutions you came up with. This helps potential employers understand your thought process and problem-solving skills, plus it shows off your ability to overcome obstacles.
Share the goods: Make it easy for people to see your work in action. Include links to live demos, case studies, and GitHub repositories so they can dive in and explore your side-product for themselves. The more accessible you make your work, the better!
By showcasing your side-products effectively, you'll be sending a clear message to potential employers that you've got the skills, dedication, and passion to create awesome work. And who wouldn't want to hire someone like that?
Remember that you have access to different mediums to show off you're side-products, so chose each suggestion in the proper medium. Maybe you're resume isn't the best place to write all about the project buy a GitHub page or a LinkedIn post would the perfect option.