You answered your own question. Projects worked on and accomplishments. Even if it's school projects, tell me the general gist of it and what leadership you displayed.Just curious, what DO you prefer to see on a resume? If somebody doesn't have a super-specific and unique skillset, what are they supposed to tout?
Sure, there are some skill requirements for a job in our group. At a bare minimum one must know how to program but I don't even care about the specific languages you know. What concepts do you know? We're a C++ shop so knowledge of pointers and indirection is a must. If you've got the concepts you can learn the syntax.
Helpful things to see:
- Demonstrated skill working medium/large projects
- Leadership ability
- Design patterns/software engineering knowledge/something that says you understand higher-level concepts
Not helpful things:
- <language du jour>
- <web technology du jour>
- <database du jour>
- <editor du jour>
- <IDE du jour>
Nick is right that the challenge is getting through the HR filter. Thinking back on our recent group hires, the best people came from the non-HR process: connections on development e-mail lists, etc. As always, it's who you know.
I agree with mister.shoes that hiring contractors is a very different ballgame. Our group doesn't tend to do that because it takes so much time to get up to speed on our technology anyway. The ramp-up time is too long for contractors even if they're the best programmers in the world.