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I am currently learning how to memorise a deck of cards. I haven't quite mastered this skill yet (I can only memorise up to about 40 cards and I usually make 1 or 2 errors), but I expect to within another month or two.

  • When I have mastered it, would this skill be worth listing on a resume?
  • I am a programmer - would it make a difference if I decided to try a career switch into being a share trader?
  • I assume its only worth mentioning once I can pull it off perfectly?
  • Does it make a difference if I still have a poor memory for names and faces (working on it though)? They might think I lied.
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Does the job you are applying for require excellent memory? If not, leave it out. They are liable to think you don't have a clue what the job is about and what's important for doing it properly. –  Permas Jun 24 '12 at 13:58
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Every job requires SOME memory. What's more important as a programmer? Having better memory or better understanding of the requirements? Having better memory or better discipline to write comments and test code? Now I don't know if a share trader would require better memory than average, I'm sure it helps (sorta like having better handwriting helps a journalist), but is it significantly important to that job? –  Permas Jun 24 '12 at 14:22
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I would add a "Misc" or "Trivia" section where you mention something about you outside of jobs, i.e hobbies and such, and add it there. I doubt it's something thats a huge benefit for the job, but its a thing that'll probably create a few minutes of fun conversation at an interview. –  Fredrik Jun 25 '12 at 10:11
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I would include this if you're interviewing for the role of "Blackjack Player". Otherwise, I think a lot of prospective employers will blink at you and say "okie-dokie." –  Erik Dietrich Jun 25 '12 at 23:32
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I'd actually consider that a red flag, as that would be introvert/loner thing to do, while modern software development is all about working in a team. –  vartec Jul 24 '13 at 11:53
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10 Answers

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Don't mention it directly, it's too much of a focus on a limited skill which in some cases could be seen as either a negative or a sign of immaturity. However you could make a [resume/cover letter] reference in passing such as "and, along with an unusual memory, has enable me to...". This is more likely to lead the reviewer to question that in an interview and then you can mention the card remembering thing . It would certainly be best however if that was one of a few things and they were more presented in an 'anecdotal' manner.

It would also be good to try and think of some more concrete 'programmery' kind of things - "I can keep the attributes of dozens of models in my head" or "I can always remember where I put a file" or the link. Even then be aware that saying that you can do what others can't can be a downside as you may go on to create code that others can't maintain so consider all the angles carefully !

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No, unless you are applying for a job as a card-memorizer, or have worked as a card-memorizer in the past and this is one of the bullet points you are using to describe your duties and responsibilities in this position.

In areas of the resume devoted to lists of skills and qualifications, again this would only be listed if it is a core skill (e.g. "something you might see in a job ad") for the position to which you are applying.

If you think such a skill adds tremendous value to your candidacy -- it sets you apart from others in a meaningful way -- you might mention it briefly in your cover letter.

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Reasoning and Logic are more important to software development than short term memorization.

Can you even conceive of a place and time in the legitimate business world that memorizing the order of a shuffled deck of cards would make someone you would work for some money?

Listing something esoteric like this generally can only bring negative things:

  • Many people might think you waste your time on silly things and wonder how much time you would waste during the day on their dime.
  • Some people might call you out on it and ask you to perform during an interview. If you fail, how bad would that look?
  • Most people will think you don't understand their business and their needs and wonder why you are wasting their time having them read something like that when you could be listing relevant skills.

Either way, it is a parlor trick!

This is a highly specific short term mnemonic skill, it does not illustrate a general aptitude for a good long term memory of general use. Hint to above question: magician

Only list accomplishments that show direct business benefits to the position you are applying for. Every hiring manager wants to know first and foremost "How can this person make my life easier and make the company more money?"

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While having a good memory is a useful skill, it isn't something people interviewing programmers cares about. It will come up at the interview if you've retained a lot of information about your previous experiences.

And this is the key. It doesn't matter if you can memorize a lot of info in a short time unless you have memorized useful information to the job and know how to apply it.

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No,

If I was reviewing your resume, it would count as a negative - or more accurately, a missed opportunity for a positive.

When I am looking at programmer's hobbies, some of the things I am looking for include:

  • Evidence of working with teams.
  • A joy in problem-solving.
  • Evidence of leadership.

When I hear "I can memorize decks of cards", I imagine sitting alone, practising without any social involvement, focussed on internalizing some rote rules.

Applicants who can do that are all too common, but may not work well in a team.

While I personally think parlour tricks are fun, and practice a few myself, it isn't what I am looking for in a programmer.

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Whenever you write a resume, write a cover letter, or go to an interview, you need to put yourself in the shoes of the person interviewing you.

They have a problem. Maybe that problem is a lack of a specific skill on their team. Maybe it's just a matter of maintaining a certain level of headcount. Or whatever.

They are interviewing people in order to find a solution to their problem. If you pad out your resume or your talk at an interview with stuff that doesn't help them solve their problem, they are likely to select a candidate that not only has the skills to solve the interviewer's problem, but the presentation skills to cleanly and clearly demonstrate those skills without other stuff getting in the way. That candidate has now solved two of the interviewer's problems.

This is all obvious stuff, but it's so obvious that we sometimes forget it - you need to ask yourself how remembering cards will help you solve the interview's problem better than other candidates - and if you can't think of a reason then you probably don't want to put it on your resume.

Depending on how the interview is going, if you're asked to talk about yourself for a bit then it might make a useful conversation piece that will make them remember you. Make sure you relate it to how you think it will improve your skills, so you're remembered as someone who's prepared to try unusual things to improve yourself, instead of being remembered as 'that weirdo'.

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I would agree with others and say no as well, with one caveat. If you are presenting your cover letter and resume with some personality, as is relatively common in Design fields, then this is something you could include. However, I advise against trying to present a letter/resume in that way as it is very difficult to get it right and very easy to get it very wrong.

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This definitely depends on the job.

For a software engineer - Jarrod Roberson's answer is perfect.

A share trader - I don't know. I'm figuring that any job where memorizing a deck of cards mirrors a skill on the job, this might be a useful peice of information to include. The real trick is to know enough about the nature of the job and the flexibility of your own skill to be able to apply it.

I've often listed skills developed for fun when I could a context. Examples include:

  • Being a teacher and presenter for hobbies I enjoy lead to me being a better teacher of technical topics at work.

  • Loving independant academic research on estoteric topics for fun made me a more critical thinker about the difference between research and experimentation, that makes me a better designer of technology.

  • Learning a dance style from a radically different culture than my own has made me more aware of cultural diversity in the workplace.

I don't usually call any of this out specifically - it's asking a lot to expect a resume reader will manage to make the connection. I do say things like "passionate about learning - both off the job and on", "continuously working on honing communication skills, particularly across cultural boundaries" - particularly when I know that the job in question will involve these sorts of skills.

Performing Arts

There is a caveat here - if you work in the performing arts, often putting some really weird stuff on your resume is advisable. I've heard of important, distinguishing skillsets that included being able to:

  • own and drive a car (keep in mind, in suburban America almost everyone can do this... but in NYC, very few members of the population drive or have cars)
  • speak a foreign language
  • fit your entire fist into your mouth
  • catch a flying marshmellow in your mouth (a requirement of Blue Man Group)

Certainly you still want to hone yourself down to most likely cases - even though driving and foreign language speaking are not skills in an actor's main training profile, it's easy to see how a particular role might require them. I'd still leave marshmellow catching off until the job description explicitly required it.

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You could list this under hobbies. I've been asked about my hobbies in job interviews. Sometimes employers are actually interested in this.

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If I am the hiring manager and I have a stack of 25 resumes, I would be most intrigued by you listing that skill. It shows:

  1. You have a personality
  2. You have enough confidence in yourself to stand out among the rest of the nerds in the bunch
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my ego is slightly bashing me right now because i don't know why the downvote –  Артём Царионов Dec 31 '12 at 16:19
    
I have interviewed plenty of people and seen enough dull resumes that this would actually make me pause and look closer. +1 –  ojblass Jul 23 '13 at 17:55
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