Project-Based Resumes for Tech Contractors

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If given the choice, most people would rather do their taxes than work on their resume. It's a painful, time-consuming process. If you're a freelance contractor in the tech industry, you already know that a one-size-fits-all resume just won't cut it today. Your resume needs to be tweaked to fit each possible position, highlighting your most relevant experience for the project at hand.

Most full-time employees use a chronological resume, showing each company in reverse-chronological order, specifying "Company," "Position," "Years," and "Duties." This is a good format for full-time positions because it can show employers how stable you are, how loyal you have been, and how you have risen through the ranks, adding value to each employer over the years.

When you're applying for a freelance/contract position, a chronological resume can actually do more harm than good. Unless your last position happens to be exactly what your new contract position requires, many managers will not even turn to the second page. A functional resume type (such as a project-based resume) can help showcase your previous project experience better than a traditional chronologically based resume.

Project-Based Resumes

Instead of organizing your resume by the companies you have worked for, consider arranging it by each individual project instead. There are four sections for each project in a project-based resume: Title, Duration, Technologies Used, and a Description.

  1. The title of each project should be a single line.
    1. Give each project a number (ie. Project 1, Project 2, etc.), followed by the "Project Name," "Company," and "Position."
  2. In the second line type "Duration:" and then estimate how long you worked on it (ie. 6 weeks, 30 days, etc.)
  3. In a new line, type "Technologies Used," or "Software Used," depending on the type of work you did. List the tools you used for the project in bullet points across two or three columns.
  4. In the fourth section, write a brief paragraph about what the project entailed and what you did. Be certain to add any information that would be important to a new employer. If it's a long description, you can use bullet points here as well to highlight important points.

Here’s an example of all of these steps put together:

Project 1: Updating (XYZ Inc.), Web Developer
Duration: 30 days
Technologies Used: HTML5/CSS3, PHP, Java

  • Redesigned XYZ’s website to accompany branding relaunch
  • Converted Flash-based navigation to HTML5 standard
  • Optimized website for all screens
  • Developed mobile version

This is one way of doing it. Here’s another way of presenting your projects:

XYZ Inc, Washington, DC (2015): Used HTML5/CSS3, PHP, and Java to rebuild for brand relaunch. Optimized for all screens, including mobile devices. Converted Flash navigation into HTML5.

This format is better if you’re intending on applying for the same type of contract position. If you’re opting for a different title, use the first format for your projects so that it’s clear what position you held during this time.

Review a Project Based Resume Sample

This is a sample resume written for a tech contractor position. You may simply read the sample below or download the Word template by clicking on the link.

Project-Based Resume Sample (Text Version)

Wendy Webb
1234 Oak St., El Paso, TX 79920
000.123.1234 (C)

Qualifications Profile

Creative and technically sophisticated Tech Contractor with 5 years’ experience independently developing and / or updating web properties for industry leaders in the financial services, real estate, sales, and manufacturing sectors. 

Web Design & Analytics: Trend-conscious and innovative in building websites that champion company brands and services. Rely upon extensive web analytics processes to track site productivity and ensure optimal ROI.

Communications: Clearly deliver complex information about projects scopes, timeframes, budgets, and technologies to clients, providing regular updates to ensure on-time execution of project deliverables.

Technical Proficiencies: Solid command of Microsoft Office Suite, Adobe Creative Cloud, Google Web Design, Bootstrap, WordPress, HTML5, CSS3, Java, JavaScript, Python, SQL, and PHP.

Recent Project Portfolio

Project 1: Updating (XYZ Inc.), Web Developer
Duration: 30 days
Technologies Used: HTML5/CSS3, PHP, Java

  • Redesigned XYZ’s website to accompany branding relaunch, optimizing website for all screens, including mobile devices.
  • Converted Flash-based navigation into HTML5 standard.
  • Developed mobile version of website.

Project 2: Created custom mobile web app (ABC Finance), Web Developer
Duration: 60 days
Technologies Used: HTML5/CSS3, PHP, Java

  • Designed and launched mobile web app to provide easy credit reporting as a valued-added service.
  • Project earned Financial Times’ “Best Financial App of 2018” award.

Project 3: Designed virtual conference room (Indie Realtors Inc.), Web Developer
Duration: 30 days
Technologies Used: HTML5/CSS3, PHP, Java

  • Conceptualized and developed virtual conference room allowing real-time meetings between 35 associated realtors and their clients.
  • Brought project home below budget and within challenging 30-day timeframe.

Project 4: Created and launched (DrillBits Manufacturing, Inc.), Web Developer
Duration: 60 days
Technologies Used: HTML5/CSS3, PHP, Java

  • Designed new website for recently-founded manufacturing company.
  • Incorporated extensive analytics tracking processes to ensure website’s swift rise in online search engine rankings.


B.B.A. in Web Application Design

Graduated Magna cum Laude

Why This Helps

When managers are looking for someone who can write C# code, or need someone to install a Cisco firewall, they really don't care how long you were working at XYZ Company. They want to know how much experience you have, what you did, and how many months, days, or years you worked in similar projects.

They will scan the first couple projects you listed, add up the days you have spent doing similar work... and then decide to call you or not. A project-based resume makes the hiring manager's job easy, which means you are much more likely to get that call if you have the expertise they are looking for.

Also, you won't have to spend so much time tweaking your resume for each position you are applying for. Keep one copy of your full resume, listing all of your projects in reverse-chronological order as a template. When you apply for a new contract position, you can simply cut and paste the most relevant projects and place them at the top of the list. The less relevant projects can fill the following pages.

Finally, updating your resume after each project is simply a matter of adding it to the list when you are finished. You can spend less time drafting and revising your resume, and spend more time actually working on contracts and, of course, doing your taxes.