Hi all,

How can I list a hypothetical benefit as an accomplishment on my resume?

One of the entries on my resume is a one-month project from shortly after I graduated college, and was otherwise unemployed. The description is as follows:

"(August 2016) Contract Electrical Engineer, [COMPANY NAME] – Short project to develop a calibration script and determine necessary circuit modifications to replace manual calibration via trim potentiometers."

Had the change been implemented, it would have saved an estimated 30 minutes per board in calibration time, but they never bothered to implement it. Since it's the only real thing I had from graduating in May 2016 and starting a job in May 2017, it seems good to have on my resume. But it feels weird to have essentially a hypothetical benefit on my resume.

I previously wrote it as "The implementation saves an estimated 30 minutes per board in calibration time." to focus on the benefit of the implementation, and not the benefit to the company.

To further complicate things, I have lately been working for that same company in a longer-term position, and I just finished redesigning the board to not require any calibration. I would like to write this more recent accomplishment as something like "Eliminated temperature calibration time down from 30 minutes by..." But then it starts to sound like the original calibration time was 1 hour, not 30 minutes.

Am I worrying about nothing? Is there a good solution?

Any input would be appreciated.


Final note of clarification for the high Cs: While the latest implementation bypasses calibration entirely, the first improved calibration scheme would have taken about 1 minute total. To me that's a negligible difference that I'm rounding both to 30 minutes.

jrb3's picture
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My two-cents from similar situations while developing software products:

Reword to state what you actually did.  Perhaps that was "Redesigned circuit-board X and calibration procedures to eliminate 30 minutes of manual calibration per board".  The benefit of your work was real and obvious -- saving labor-time on each unit;  your design was ready to be used;  you have a defensible measure of the benefit associated.  That your later solution is current isn't relevant to whether newly-graduated you was capable of producing usable and beneficial work.

Interestingly, it seems like your redesign can be described in a similar accomplishment:  "Redesigned circuit-board X to eliminate need for calibration".  This can be an excellent hook to demonstrate continuity and growing competence, as this later accomplishment is related to, but distinct from, the earlier one.

By the by, I found my resume tightened up noticeably when I switched my accomplishment bullet points from "noun blah blah blah" to "verb blah blah blah".  The emphasis shifted:  I did these things, rather than I was nearby when they happened. ;-)

arobertson's picture

Love the recommendation. I find this type of writing to be the most challenging so really appreciate it when people give examples (and talk about current challenges.) 

MattW's picture

Thanks jrb3, that helps. Updating my resume to use much more active verbs is one of the reasons I'm going through all this in the first place. :)

Here's the latest iteration of the two jobs.

(April 2019–Present) Electrical Engineer, [COMPANY] – Part-time position. Troubleshoot and repair control boards, create prototypes, design new control boards.

  • Eliminated temperature calibration time by redesigning the main control board in Altium Designer, replacing the analog temperature circuit with a purpose-built digital converter.

(August 2016) Contract Electrical Engineer, [COMPANY] – Short project to develop a digital calibration system and determine necessary circuit modifications to replace manual calibration via trim potentiometers.

  • Wrote example script and documented circuit changes to reduce calibration times by an estimated 30 minutes per board.
  • OR
  • Reduced calibration times by 30 minutes per board by writing an example script and documenting circuit modifications.

I like the second choice since the first word is the benefit "reduced", but this goes back to my concern about having a misleading resume. Much ado about nothing, or should I stick with the first bullet?