I'm not an HR pro, but I take part in the hiring process, look at CVs and lead interviews with candidates.

Let me give you some advice on your CV, especially if you have not that much or no prior experience at all.

1️⃣ Basic Structure Of A CV

I'm pretty sure that most of you know the basic structure of a CV. Your personal details at the top, and then your:

- education
- skills
- work experience
- projects
- sometimes a few hobbies

in some order, and that's it then.
2️⃣ The Issue

At least in my experience, people with little to no experience often leave out the "projects" part because they argue that they haven't done any, yet.

That is a huge mistake. If you don't have that much experience, yet, you may still compete with people ...
... who have or at least list some projects that I can take a look at by doing some research.

The more I can find out about that project, the better. This helps me getting an idea of you and maybe even taking a first look at your coding skills.
I'm a technical guy and am not that much interested in HR. When I'm asked about my opinion of you, I need something to evaluate and assess.

A college degree is cool but not a must. It does only show that a candidate was able to get through 3-4 years ...
... or more of learning. Period. A bootcamp certificate does also not show anything more than that the candidate finished.

Don't understand me wrong, please. I admire everyone who goes one of those ways, and I also value self-learners very highly.

But in the end, ...
... my task is to get an idea of how good of a fit you are.

And the reality is that we, the people involved in the hiring process, usually don't have the time to interview each and every candidate.

This is why you need something to spark some interest.
If I have the choice between you with no professional experience and no projects listed and someone comparable without experience but who has finished some projects (even if they are private) already, I found my favorite. As sad as it might be.
3️⃣ Projects

Projects are something that can spark interest. Especially if there is source code to evaluate.

If you have already worked on professional projects, you usually won't be able to supply source code. I know that. But at least there might be a finished product ...
... that I can take a look at. And it is something we can talk about during your interview.

Source code is even better. I can take a look and see how you are as a developer. If it's a working project, even better because you finished it. We can talk about that ...
... and I can ask you how you did certain things or why. This is way better than letting you whiteboard algorithmic basics (I hate that myself) or asking you technical question after technical question.
4️⃣ Add Projects

If you have no or nearly no prior experience, get some. Build projects and put them on GitHub.

Start with one and make it at least two working, finished projects. List them on your CV and link to them so someone at the company you're applying at ...
... can take a look. It shows that you know how to create something, and that you personally took the time to showcase some of your skill.

And please, put in some work into those two projects. Make use of linters, maybe some static code analysis, and write tests!
Take advantage of GitHub offering actions for OSS for free (e.g.), so create a build and test pipeline for your projects.

Show that you at least understand the full software development lifecycle. This is worth way more than writing perfect code, believe me.
5️⃣ Conclusion

You want to get noticed. Someone at the company you apply at must see something within the documents you provide and say to themselves: "Okay, let's meet them."

I know many companies for which working projects are exactly that, something that ...
... sparks interest. So take the time and build something if you have nothing to showcase. Then use this as the entry to your dream position.

Having working and finished projects will usually make you look better to a company than someone who hasn't.
6️⃣ Disclaimer

Before you now apply what I told you here and then later come after me because it didn't work:

This is my personal experience from hiring myself, applying myself, and talking to many people in my personal bubble who are also involved in hiring.
There might still be companies or markets where this approach doesn't give you the edge over other candidates but I am pretty sure that most of the time it will give you at least some plus-points.

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