A few months back I was interviewing someone. Let's call him Arvind. He was decent. Had the right skills, he knew his subject well and knew what was asked and how to answer it.
We were a 3 member interview panel. Even before the interview began we were impressed with his resume.
The thing that was impressive about his resume was not what he has written but the actual verifiable evidence he gave of his work. That's what made his resume stand out.
A tool he has created in his leisure time is recommened by a professor of the caltech university. His contribution to a programming forum on internet has 1000+ downloads.
The fact that all this were not required and he did this in his part time were a positive for him.
So what am I getting at?
This is what I call personal assets. That guy in his spare time, after his work life was active with his passion and created things with those skills. This way slowly he has built something that others find useful and this is what he leveraged in his job search.
This method worked as everyone who saw that resume was impressed.
This is what I mean when I ask people to work on side projects. Not only side projects improve your skills but they help you create assets that one can leverage.
Internet and tools available there give you immense opportunity to stand out. The question is are you using them?
In the year 2012, I will be exploring this topic in more detail. I would like to see everyone participate in this. Tell us what do you think it takes to stand out?