How to Make Obscure Accomplishments Sound Awesome

While many impressive accomplishments are easily understood by anyone in the field, others are not. How do you show off something when people just don’t care?

Award winnerThe key is to make them care. You need to make what you’ve done meaningful by showing that it’s relevant and impressive.

Let’s take an example:

First Place in FooBar Programming Contest

Is this a serious accomplishment? It’s certainly not a bad thing, but a recruiter has no idea how impressive it is. We need to make sure that it’s seen as relevant and impressive. Like this:

Relevance

We need to say something about why this is relevant. What did you do to earn this award? On what grounds was it awarded?

Wording like this would be better:

First place in FooBar Programming Contest, a weekend long individual hackathon, for a synchronized calendar application built using Ruby on Rails.

With this, the recruiter understands that you participated in a hackathon, built something meaty, and did so using Ruby on Rails. This makes it much more relevant.

Impressive

While this award is now relevant, the recruiter still can’t understand how impressive it is. Somehow, we need to quantify it.

Here’s one way:

First place (out of 400 teams) in FooBar Programming Contest, a weekend long individual hackathon, for a synchronized calendar application built using Ruby on Rails.

With this, the recruiter understands that you not only built a meaty application, but you did it very well. After all, there were 400 teams competing, and you did better than all of them.

This advice goes for not only obscure accomplishments, but more “standard” things, as well. If you won any award, at work or at school, quantifying its impressiveness and showing why it’s relevant to the job is key.

Comments

  1. BY Mountains says:

    Should one include math contests won during HS years?? I thought it would sound immature on the resume of someone past BS degree and a couple of years of experience…

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