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When should you add info on projects or associations that you joined that are exclusive to extremely intelligent people (e.g. Mensa, in my case)? Researching on the internet implies a general sentiment of no. The reasoning being that:

  1. There are many more people who will label you as arrogant or feel threatened by your intelligence, rather than be genuinely impressed that you're in the top.
  2. You should come across as intelligent in your CV anyway, so this is extraneous information.
  3. Even if you get the job, there is a chance that you will be thrown difficult tasks with little or no help due to you being supposedly super-smart.
  4. Most importantly: the fact that since you're smart, you'll be a bad team player ala Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.

However for me, there are some extra considerations:

  1. I want the mention to get me pass through initial screening as I find that I generally do well in phone and face-to-face interviews. The main problems I have are: in group assessment although not because I'm arrogant, but because I feel that I won't be adding value to the group task since everyone has already covered the points. Yes I even know that the task is not the challenge but how I communicate with everyone else, so every time it becomes a battle between my brain and my mouth! But to get back on topic, the other problem I have is that I commonly get screened out in the initial stage because of...
  2. Lackluster academics. I made some pretty poor choices in my younger days and as I'm still in my early 20's, my academics do still matter.

I have since grown up and have developed a much better work ethic (incidentally, the story of 'change' makes for a very successful motivational interview story!). This does not make up for the mediocre results in academics unfortunately. As a result, my CV seems to not be very special. In this case, will it be a good idea to mention such projects or associations, in order to somehow make up for the poor activity in schools?

If not, what if I include it in a small section under say, "hobbies and interests"? Or should I just stay away?

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That being said...what job level ARE you applying for? And for that matter, in what field? These factors alone make a huge difference. –  Zibbobz Mar 25 at 16:06
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How much of a distinguisher will this actually be for your target job? (As Zibbobz said, you haven't said what type of job you're talking about.) In some fields I would assume that nearly everybody who bothered to take the test could get into Mensa, while in others it's possible it could be relevant. –  Monica Cellio Mar 25 at 16:19
    
@Kvothe I am currently in a job as a graduate software analyst at an investment bank. I was asking for if I were to apply somewhere else in the future in the exact same industry, would listing mensa be advisable? –  Evil Washing Machine Mar 25 at 17:13
    
Comments removed. Please use comments to clarify/improve the question. For extended discussion, please use The Workplace Chat. –  Jim Mar 27 at 21:44
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Intelligent people do not praise their IQ. –  DebugErr Mar 28 at 9:38

13 Answers 13

up vote 14 down vote accepted

It's rather controversial.

Many would see this as a negative point, and many would see as a positive point, and many don't even know what Mensa is.

What work you do

One factor could be the line of work you're in. If you're an actuary, for example, one would expect that you have a high IQ already, so saying you're in Mensa should make rather a small difference (presumably typically positive), but it may make a larger (positive) difference if you're applying for a role which you presumably need a high IQ for, where as you're currently in a role which doesn't necessarily. If you're applying for a role which presumably does not require a high IQ, for example, a writer, it should typically make a small difference, perhaps tending to the negative side.

(No offence to anyone with my above choices, I just typically see being skilled at mathematics to be strongly related to having a high IQ, and IQ certainly isn't everything, but it's the intended entry condition for Mensa, and I know plenty of people in Mensa with a job which I wouldn't deem as requiring a high IQ).

Indicators

You may want to look for indicators for any given job. Some job specifications specifically say "highly intelligent" or similar, for which you'd presumably want to include it. If you see things like "good team player", "work well with clients" or really anything tending towards social interaction, saying you're in Mensa may be looked upon negatively (high IQ individuals tend to be perceived as lacking the ability to socially interact well, regardless of whether or not this is true). You could perhaps look at the company website for any similar indicators or look at individuals working there (preferably management or someone you'd expect to be looking at your resume) - if any of them publicly display their Mensa membership, that possibly means that including it is okay.

Just keep in mind that any given person could see it as either very positive or very negative, regardless of the industry they're in or any indicators that may point to them looking for or not looking for a Mensa member.

Justification

Also, just keep in mind that you may need to be able explain what Mensa is (without sounding arrogant), justify why you're a Mensa member (again, without sounding arrogant) and why you included it in your resume (as with anything you put on your resume). If you can't do all 3 these things, better leave it off.

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The fundamental problem is trying to name drop your high IQ will reveal a low emotional intelligence. Which most employers desire at least a little of. Almost everyone resents someone saying they are generally smarter than them, even if its true. –  Mark Rogers Mar 26 at 15:12
    
@MarkRogers Is saying you're a Mensa member really that different from, for example, saying you passed your degree with honours, or listing any work-related achievement that may correlate to having a high IQ? I'd expect the latter to always / almost always appear on one's resume. By including it, you're making no reference to their IQ (only your own), so you're not saying you're "generally smarter than them". Some view high IQ positively - including evidence of this should generally be perceived as positive by those people as well (although I wouldn't say you should include your exact IQ). –  Dukeling Mar 26 at 15:52
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You can decide for yourself what's true or not, but there are a lot of smart high IQ people in the world. Sadly many of them are not good with people which limits their usefulness. Talking about your IQ or Mensa says that your not aware of the social risk your taking by potentially seeming arrogant. Whether right or wrong, name dropping a high IQ or Mensa will be perceived as potentially arrogant. If one is truly exceptionally intelligent, then that person should be able to express it in their manner and actions, rather than overtly stating it. Well that's the hope anyway. –  Mark Rogers Mar 26 at 16:01
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"there are also plenty of jobs where you don't need to be particularly good with people (for example, someone spending most of the day programming and not dealing with clients often)" - This is very false. There are very few jobs were having good social skills doesn't matter and engineering is not one of them. Nearly every engineering job requires you to work well as a member of a team. You may not have to deal with customers often, but you will almost always have to deal frequently with coworkers, none of whom are going to enjoy arrogance or condescension. –  reirab Mar 26 at 20:40
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@Dukeling, Yes, listing Mensa membership would be viewed very differently from listing that you graduated with honors. The latter is an actual accomplishment that shows, not just intelligence, but dedication and effectiveness. Graduating Summa from a good engineering school requires years of dedication in addition to high intelligence. Furthermore, it indicates that during those years you almost certainly learned many skills that are needed to do your job - which is the point of education. Joining Mensa requires taking a test and paying a due and says nothing about your engineering skills. –  reirab Mar 26 at 20:46

I can tell you that, for me, having Mensa on a resume would act as somewhat of a negative from a hiring point of view. I deal with and hire highly educated and highly capable people almost exclusively (post doc to masters), and this would not be a good indicator of a team player in my estimation. It would also not help with mediocre academics, it would actually hurt because I would judge that the person will quickly get bored with the less interesting stuff I have to get them to do, and will just phone it in, like they did before.

Others may well feel differently (if you have intelligence, as it were, that the interviewer is also a Mensa member, it might help).

I'd rather see some kind of extracurricular activity than a club membership (maybe in your case you've contributed to open source or answered SE questions).

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I concur on the slightly negative aspect, but for different reasons. Raw intelligence itself has such poor correlation to success at a job... I would question your association to a group that emphasizes that raw intelligence over more balanced (or practical) excellence. –  Telastyn Mar 25 at 18:07
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@Telastyn I think we're in agreement that intelligence represents potential, and proven accomplishments are more relevant to job performance. –  Spehro Pefhany Mar 25 at 18:46
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I am a software developer, and I review resumes, and I concur on the negative aspect, for a completely different reason. Top 2% is only 133 IQ. Average IQ for majors in engineering, computer science, and mathematical science type fields is 125-130, so 133 is really not that special in this field. The fact that someone would think that it is special makes me think that either they have no experience or it's been only with people who trend below-average for software people. Now, if you were a member of OATH or Triple Nine, i.e. top 0.1% or 150+ IQ, then we'd have something to talk about. –  shoover Mar 25 at 19:19
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@shoover Good point... so pretty much anyone capable of a Masters in a hard science should qualify. –  Spehro Pefhany Mar 25 at 21:23
    
@shoover I see quite often this claim of university graduates, especially STEM fields, having very high intelligence. I'm not trying to sound arrogant but is this an observation or fact? Because here in the UK, I really do not agree, atleast regarding some of my classmates! –  Evil Washing Machine Mar 27 at 9:55

I would put Mensa membership in a "Hobbies and interest" section at the end. That's where people will look for conversation starters, especially with candidates at the beginning of their career, as you seem to be.

Don't make a big fuss over it, or you may come across as arrogant - as you correctly mention. Most people in software development are pretty intelligent, there is a selection effect. I'd assume that no less than 20% of software developers and related people would be in the top 2% of the general population, intelligence-wise, and thus qualify for Mensa. So Mensa may not be all that unique in the crowd you are running with.

However, I don't think this will help you a lot in the initial screening. AFAIK, Mensa membership depends on a single IQ test. Quite apart from these tests' reliabilities, your college transcripts reflect your IQ and your ability to concentrate on something over the longer term, and this is what employers care about. (And you seem to be having some WoW-related problems here.) A potential employer who screens based on academics may not even read your CV to the point where your Mensa membership appears.

Bottom line: you can put this in, but concentrate on telling your prospective employer why they should hire you in the cover letter. List your accomplishments - and just put the Mensa membership (which is, sorry, probably not an accomplishment your employer will care about) in the CV as a conversation starter. Good luck.

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Thanks for the answer! Regarding the software developer industry being top-end: as a regular reader of thedailywtf.com, I am not quite sure about that....:P –  Evil Washing Machine Mar 25 at 17:19
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@EvilWashingMachine: perhaps I am biased by the developers I work with every day ;-) –  Stephan Kolassa Mar 25 at 18:15
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Merely saying that you are a Mensa member does risk projecting arrogance. Being an active member of Mensa or of any other organization -- holding office, volunteering to organize events/projects, publishing a newsletter (on a regular schedule) -- is likely to be considered a more significant indicator of your ability to contribute. –  keshlam Mar 25 at 23:08
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@EvilWashingMachine the normal distribution curve still applies even if shifted –  Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Mar 26 at 8:55

I certainly wouldn't list MENSA (or any high-IQ group) on a CV to "make up for" or to offset poor academics. If I see those two things together (smart, but poor grades), my initial assumption would be that the person in question is just lazy. If your academics were poor, it's best to just not mention your GPA and simply state the degree(s) you obtained, and from which institution.

As others have mentioned, grades and intelligence don't really matter to employers. They care about what you can do that will benefit them, and not how smart you are, or how you tested in school. After all, simply being smart or testing well isn't anything an employer's going to be able to make money off of.

Completing a degree demonstrates several traits that have value to employers, but believe it or not, intelligence is not one of the traits that having an undergrad degree demonstrates.

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Are you saying that "being smart" is not something companies need? BTW "intelligence" is not "being smart" –  BЈовић Mar 26 at 12:08
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@BЈовић Honestly, for the most part, no. Check out the other answers - smart people tend to get bored with the mundane tasks most every job requires. Companies just need someone smart enough to do the job. Not that IQ really correlates to much useful anyway, at least not with normal values (and MENSA-qualification is in a normal range - 1 out of every 50 people has an IQ high enough to qualify for MENSA. Worldwide, that's 140 million people... not exactly "elite" or noteworthy, really.) –  HopelessN00b Mar 26 at 12:38
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@HopelessN00b, Within many engineering organizations, I would greatly disagree with the assertion that being smart or intelligent is not something that companies need. Of course, that varies a lot by organization. If you're designing 101 database front-ends, it's not needed as much (though still helpful.) If you're designing RF equipment, an operating system, firmware for a satellite or avionics, etc., it's required. Having said that, arrogance is absolutely something that they don't need and that's exactly what listing Mensa membership on one's resume or CV would convey to me. –  reirab Mar 26 at 20:06
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@reirab Like I said, Companies just need someone smart enough to do the job. In the context of sophisticated engineering, sure, you have to be pretty smart to do it, but even there, the intelligence requirement is secondary - it's just part of what's required to do the job. They're still not going to hire a non-engineer, no matter how high his IQ is, and frankly, the company's not going to care about the IQ of the engineers it does hire. I would assert that they'd be happy to hire an engineer with an IQ of 80, if he could somehow do quality engineering work. –  HopelessN00b Mar 26 at 20:41
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@reirab HopelessN00b is right. And, being myself someone who would easily qualify for Mensa, I know from personal experience that purely IQ (which is a very debatable subject anyway... What exactly is IQ ?) doesn't mean anything and certainly NOT for job-selection. In fact: It really puts people off. Either they feel threatened by someone possibly smarter than themselves or they consider bringing it up arrogant. And most people I know will automatically associate high IQ with bad social skills, which can be really detrimental to the workplace (the "bad team-player" consideration). –  Tonny Mar 27 at 23:19

I am going to suggest a definite no on listing Mensa on your resume.

Mensa doesn't tell a recruiter anything that shouldn't already be on your resume. If someone is intelligent and skilled, they will have examples of success projects they have worked on, hobbies they have cultivated or languages they have learned.

Instead, all it shows is that you value standardised intelligence and a desire to rank your intelligence against others. This is a definite no in the professional context, as a recruited may see you as someone who may be abrasive with other staff.

I have often found that people who have joined Mensa usually do so for the wrong reasons, often to prove how smart they are. However, all it does is prove gullibility, as Mensa is a small organisation that does little for its members, yet still charges very high dues because of some artificial (and culturally biased) enterance criteria.

Instead, focus your resume on articulating demonstratable skills to show a well-rounded person with good propects.

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Thanks for the answer! Just to point out though (and I'm not defending them in anyway) that mensa do give culture fair tests (atleast in the UK anyway) –  Evil Washing Machine Mar 26 at 9:45

What is IQ on a resume?

IQ on its own is a meaningless figure, at most a crude indicator for potential. I would never advertise my IQ on a resume or any IQ related communities which I subscribe to. Unless they specifically ask, don't share your IQ. If you're exceptionally smart, they will pick up on it without you needing to mention it.

What do Employers Want?

What employers want is execution and drive - not potential. Employers want accomplishments that took effort and perseverance. You can be Steven Hawkings mental superior but it doesn't matter if you don't do anything with it. If I were an employer and I was choosing between someone average but driven against someone brilliant but unmotivated I'd pick the individual with drive.

If you're employer expressly expects high-IQ individuals then they will weed people out as necessary - they can do it on their own. If they don't expressly expect it you'll be flashing your feathers for nothing, even worse they might see you as a high risk of leaving to greener pastures.

Don't Advertise Arbitrary numbers, Advertise Accomplishments

In all honesty paired with your lacklustre academics employers might read you as saying "I'm exceptionally smart, but I have so little drive I did poorly in school". Even if that's not how you'd frame it - that's how employers will.

Instead of approaching this and saying "I'm smart, hire me", list things you've done that impress people; I've listed things like sophisticated programs I wrote in public school (it's an excellent interview conversation when you are accused of stealing college-level work at age 12), focus programs, extracurricular classes, etc. You don't need (or want) too many, even one or two is enough.

If you don't have any accomplishments that indicate your intelligence then frankly you should lower your expectations and accept you need get points on that resume, and that your academic missteps might cost you a few years while you carve out real achievements.

Are you a good programmer? Work on a complex open-source project and list it on your resume. Amazing artist? Build a portfolio. Gifted at science? Write a paper and get it published. Build real career-specific accomplishments and you'll have a resume with much more meaning than having the bullet point "I'm really smart". If you do really high-profile work you might even be approached.

Hard Numbers

At the 98th percentile there's still 2 people out of 100 who could be as smart or smarter than you; ~140,000,000 people globally. Every classroom of 50 students statistically has one other student as smart or smarter than you and I. Also, there's plenty of 'average' people who will intensely focus on the same field as you - and can very well beat you if you butt head-to-head unless you put in equal effort. Jobs may often require some sort of on-the-spot test or entry submission - and IQ will count for nothing when someone with laser-focus outperforms you.

Personal Notes

Remember that IQ signifies capacity and not usage; just because you have a big library doesn't mean it's full of books. Falling on the high side of the standard deviation isn't an accomplishment on it's own, and shouldn't be treated as one on a resume - all it means is that you can learn and comprehend something faster with less effort, and doesn't automatically give you the 'complete package'.

Reading over your question, it sounds more like you're concerned about how you can cut-corners and skip the line by using your IQ. Saying you deserve extra consideration because you're smart is meaningless because it sounds like you haven't applied any effort to deserve that consideration. If you really want to succeed in the long run, you need to accept that you have to put in real effort to earn your mental stripes and stop trying to coast one one single number you feel makes you exempt.

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@iamnotmaynard Thanks! Corrected. –  Kver Mar 26 at 18:42
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+1 Good answer. Accomplishments show that you are actually able to do things; IQ only suggests that you could. –  iamnotmaynard Mar 26 at 19:25
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Agreed completely. Accomplishments are what matters. Also, as far as the 'hard numbers' section is concerned, it's true, but understated. In software engineering, especially in the higher-end jobs, it's very likely the half of the people applying for the job could be in Mensa if they actually had any desire to be. Having an IQ higher than 98% of the world's population doesn't mean you have an IQ higher than 98% of software engineers. –  reirab Mar 26 at 20:22

I have never heard of anyone actually saying they were "threatened" by someone else's intelligence. Likewise, outside of high school the only time I've seen people antagonized for their "intelligence" is when it has been purposely and repeatedly thrown in someone else's face.

To give a bit of background: according to mensa's qualifying scores, I would be accepted into that "elite" crowd with plenty of room to spare. I'm also pretty sure that everyone I've hired would be able to as well. That said, I have absolutely no intention of ever joining for the simple reason that I have no need to purposefully seek out others who happen to score well on tests. IMHO, the entire thing is soaked in arrogance.

In my experience people who feel a need to point out having a "superior intellect" (the phrase "Khannnn!!" comes to mind) tend to be those who frequently have issues working with others. Namely, they tend to talk down to people they feel are "inferior" or simply don't see things they same way.

So, no, I wouldn't hire someone that listed Mensa on their resume. Also, I don't believe mentioning it will get you past any type of HR screener. They are looking for very particular keywords, then seeing what dumb selfies you've posted on your facebook account.

Side note: Don't put a "hobbies and interests" section on your resume. Even if it's something innocuous like "riding horses" you are tempting fate which means it will be read by someone whose twin brother was trampled by a phantom horse which came out of nowhere in downtown Manhattan just last week. So if it's not directly related to the job you are looking to perform, leave it off.

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+1 to not putting 'hobbies and interests' on your resume. Use the space for qualifications that matter. –  thursdaysgeek Mar 25 at 22:00
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+1 for "entire thing is soaked in arrogance". This has been very true in my experience. –  Lego Stormtroopr Mar 26 at 5:00
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Another +1 for no hobbies and interests section. It's a resume, not an online dating profile. –  HopelessN00b Mar 26 at 8:23
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Agreed completely, especially the first 2 paragraphs. Every time I've heard anyone talk about others being 'threatened' by their intelligence, what's really going on is that no one wants to work with them because of their condescension and arrogance. Show your intelligence by what you've done, not by merely stating your IQ or membership in Mensa. Most good software engineers could be in Mensa if they wanted to. If I'm reading your resume or CV, that would say very little to me other than that 1) You're probably arrogant and 2) You're trying to make up for a lack of actual qualifications. –  reirab Mar 26 at 20:34
    
@reirab "Most good software engineers could be in Mensa if they wanted to" and the really smart ones don't care for paying the membership fees ;) –  Izkata Mar 27 at 13:33

I can't tell if you're applying for your first professional job or if you're a little farther along. If you have other work experience, that is likely to matter more than your grades. As an interviewer I've never asked anybody other than a fresh grad about grades. (And, frankly, usually not even then -- I ask about class projects that demonstrate skills and knowledge.)

In my experience (technical contributor who sometimes does interviews and phone screens, not HR), listing membership in an organization, or even listing its awards, doesn't do much. Member of Mensa? Who cares -- most of my coworkers could be if they wanted to be. (Not trying to be harsh, but that's the reality of the software world.) Volunteer of the Month in some club I've never heard of? Meh. However, if you did relevant work on behalf of a club you belonged to, that could matter.

So if you've done more than just show up at meetings -- if you helped organize a regional gathering, if you've given professionally-relevant talks within the organization, if you built the local chapter's web site, etc, list that -- as volunteer experience. That you're a member of the organization will be evident, but you aren't calling out the membership per se, because that's not the important part (same as if you did those activities for your congregation, scouts, literary club, or whatever).

The resume should tell the story of your experience, the skills and knowledge you bring to the position, rather than your list of affiliations.

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Thanks for the great answer! Yes I am actually abit further along in my career (5 months into my first job) , so I asked because currently i really won't have any good project experience. –  Evil Washing Machine Mar 25 at 21:46
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@EvilWashingMachine not trying to be harsh, but 5 months into your first month is nothing compared to people who have been in the industry for 15+ years. When you're applying for a job, you're not only "competing" against new grads, but you're also "competing" against people who got laid off, people who got fired, people who quit because they wanted to start their own thing and failed, people who switched industries, etc, etc... so in the grand scheme of things 5 months into your first job would still be considered entry level. –  AlanChavez Mar 26 at 16:35
    
@AlanChavez yes I know that thus why my question was worded as if I have never been in a job. I was clearing it up for Monica Cellio because her first sentence asks "I can't tell if you're applying for your first professional job or if you're a little farther along". Also, graduate programs in firms automatically reject people who have graduated more than 2 years ago. –  Evil Washing Machine Mar 27 at 9:40

You've pointed out some of the cons, and listed a potential pro: that your academic ratings are not so great. Here is an arguement against that:

  • In most cases, after you graduate, grades don't matter. You got the degree, and that alone is adequate. High grades or low grades -- no one cares. (I say this as someone who got very high grades, and it doesn't impress anyone, so I've learned to not bother saying.)
  • If your grades are known, it will create a question: why the mensa but not the grades? You don't want your resume to raise questions, because that is a distraction.

And, as you yourself have pointed out, putting that on the resume will make people consider you arrogant or a non team player. You want your resume to put you in the best possible light. If you know that the hiring manager is also in Mensa, or is looking for someone in Mensa, then put it on. Otherwise, as you say, let your intelligence shine in the resume itself, so they can draw their own conclusions.

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" after you graduate, grades don't matter." I'd say: a couple of years after you graduate. –  Quora Feans Mar 26 at 4:44
    
That is the problem though, my CV really doesn't have much which demonstrates intelligence due to aforementioned poor life decisions. Otherwise I wouldn't be asking this ;) –  Evil Washing Machine Mar 26 at 9:43
    
@EvilWashingMachine - Your writing style will be part of that. Check out AskAManager.org on writing good cover letters. (And it took me 4 years from graduation to get a job in my field, in a non-recession time, with excellent grades, so what do I know?) –  thursdaysgeek Mar 26 at 15:11
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@EvilWashingMachine the point is not demonstrating intelligence, but demonstrating that you will have a positive impact on your company. I could be way "dumber" than you, but if I bring $1,000 USD to the company per hour worked, and you bring nothing and get a paycheck every now and then, guess who's going to get hired? –  AlanChavez Mar 26 at 16:38
    
Agreed, I have actually been told by professors that they would recommend someone with my academic performance... if they were less smart then me but worked harder. I took that as a wake up call and the point still sticks. –  kleineg Mar 27 at 13:46

I'm worried that this will be opinion based as a general question, but here's my take:

  • Any organization gets you an "in" if the person reviewing your resume recognizes and appreciates it.
  • Any organization gets you an "out" if the person reviewing your resume has a reason to feel that people who are part of that organization will not be a good fit for the position.
  • Any negatives on your resume are negatives - how much they matter, again, has to do with the opinion of the reviewer and the hiring practice of the company.

There's a certain sort of intelligence seeking company and recruitment style that's going to love people in high IQ organizations. There's a certain set of "we don't care" companies that won't even notice. There's probably some individuals who will have all the negative stereotypes in their head when they hear "Mensa". But then end result is - "it depends on the reader".

In my experience, it matters more that you've done good work, had good grades, or went to a good school - but showing interest and involvement in doing good work outside of work is good in most cases for just about anyone.

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honestly, I don't think it will make one bit of difference, except on the off chance the hiring manager happens to be a Mensa member too. in the software world, what matters is results as well as the ability to work well in a team. What impresses most is the ability to demonstrate that you have achieved and are capable of continuing to achieve results. Best way to demonstrate this is:

  • show that you can answer technical questions in the interview process, particularly when it comes to elegant coding skills
  • talk about what you have achieved in the past when it comes to software/coding projects/etc

People who interview you will be impressed by your skills and knowledge, not your club memberships. Here in Silicon Valley I work with excellent programmers some of whom are basically college dropouts and such.

someone who knows you are Mensa, will know you're intelligent. But intelligence doesn't necessarily mean you are good at coding, work well with others, enjoy coding 10 hours a day, etc, which are the important factors that go into the hiring decision, at least for developer jobs.

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+1 for 'what matters is results' –  siliconrockstar Mar 26 at 14:36

Honestly the type of group you are listing on your resume does not matter as much as how active your participation in that group.

If you contributed by organizing events or volunteered through that organization You could highlight it under job experience or volunteer work just like anything else. The fact that you are a member means next to nothing, the fact that you contributed in a meaningful way could mean a lot!

The fact that you are a card carrying member of Mensa, while a great personal accomplishment, is pretty useless in evaluating your skills as an employee. You can run into the problems you mentioned of seeming arrogant, or the question "you are a member of XYZ, why haven't you done more to support the group you are so proud of?".

I ran into exactly that question in an interview when listing a academic honor's society I was a member of. I got the job but I removed it from my resume afterward because I could not back up my lack of participation.

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Comments for improvement? –  kleineg Mar 28 at 13:06
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I'd suggest differentiating it a bit more from other answers by making the focus on contributions/accomplishments rather than simple membership a bit more prominent. I do see your point, but after reading over a dozen other answers, it could be easily overlooked by other users –  Jim Mar 31 at 22:27
    
@Jim, thank you, that was helpful. I didn't realize that my point was not coming across effectively. I am working on a response. –  kleineg Apr 1 at 17:35
    
@Jim, is that more clear? Or does it need more work? –  kleineg Apr 1 at 17:53
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Looks good! Thanks for editing! –  Jim Apr 1 at 18:22

I've included my Mensa and Intertel memberships on my resume ever since I joined 23 years ago. To the best of my knowledge it's never hurt me - though I have to admit I've not applied to a great many jobs so it's never had a chance to hurt me.

Since a resume is all about selling yourself it makes sense to include anything that sets you apart. Being a member of an organization that is highly selective is no different than listing a CISSP certification for instance.

And like any other social organization if you are involved with Mensa (proctoring tests, participating in gatherings, etc.) it's nice to show you are involved.

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However a CISSP proves that you have a solid background in System Security, plus in order to ATTEMPT to get a CISSP you need at least 5 years of professional experience. The CISSP alone validates that you've been working in the field for at least 5 years and have relevant experience, that certification is just the cherry on the top of the cake. On the other hand, anyone can apply to Mensa, it only proves that you're good at testing which I assume is not a skill that a lot of employers actively seek. –  AlanChavez Mar 26 at 16:43

protected by Jim Mar 27 at 21:48

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