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A common resume writing advice is to support achievements with numbers. Currently, I have this line on my resume:

Migrated whole test suite comprised of 100+ GUI tests and 700+ system tests to the next major release of the operating system with minimal modifications.

I've already sidestepped the issue that they were still testing on an old operating system whose extended life cycle support ended a year ago and which no customer ran our application on. It wasn't a difficult task, but neither was it trivial.

Most problems I solved were due to the nature of GUI/system tests and how badly they were written in the first place, and the non-straightforwardness of Linux font configuration, so leaving the type of tests out would undermine my accomplishment, while keeping it would, in my opinion, reflect negatively on the company, because that's an unhealthy ratio of tests to have (there were neither unit nor integration tests). The large number of tests was intended to put things into perspective and show that I couldn't possibly have brute forced my way through the problem.


Another common resume writing advice is to be specific about the achievements. The thing is I'd worked on adapting feature F from product A to product B, but feature F on product B ran extremely slow, and made even much slower (original time complexity squared) after a colleague took over from where I left off, and remained as slow after he passed the work on to a more senior developer. So I'm afraid that, on a slim chance, feature F on product B had gained a bad reputation in the industry, and I would be viewed negatively by association, unjustly. I don't want to leave it off either as that represented an important bulk of my rather short employment period.


How could I put them more positively and appealingly to potential employers?

  • It doesn't matter why it was where it was, or if it was out-of-date at the time. The fact is you did what you said you did, and therefore it's an accomplishment. Go with it! – Wesley Long Apr 4 '18 at 17:30
  • To add to @WesleyLong, unless it was your choice to stay with the outdated OS, you did your best to work with the technology decisions your company made – cdkMoose Apr 4 '18 at 19:56
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Your question was,

How could I put them more positively and appealingly to potential employers?

You need to keep in mind that you're trying to get potential employers to hire you, not your former employer.

In other words, to address your first concern:

leaving the type of tests out would undermine my accomplishment, while keeping it would, in my opinion, reflect negatively on the company

Being honest about how you made a specific accomplishment in a "bad" environment is a good thing, because it shows you know how to perform under sub-optimal conditions. Good hiring managers know that every environment has something less-than-optimal about it. Hiring a candidate who can only perform when everything around them is perfect isn't as useful as someone who can do good work even in less than perfect conditions: that is, someone who can upgrade an old system, add a feature to software that isn't up to date, etc.

So, if your goal is to:

to put things into perspective and show that I couldn't possibly have brute forced my way through the problem

then provide whatever background you need to do that - again, you're selling yourself, not the company you used to work for. To do that, focus on what you brought to the table. Focus on how you addressed the problem and how you were able to accomplish something unique, something where you added value (despite the implied "bad" situation).

You were also concerned about:

So I'm afraid that, on a slim chance, feature F on product B had gained a bad reputation in the industry, and I would be viewed negatively by association, unjustly

Chances are, if a product is big/important/well established enough to be known widely in the industry, then it'll be generally accepted that it has been created as a team effort by many people over a long period of time. In other words, if you claim to have developed a component in Microsoft Word, no one is going to hold you personally responsible for the public's opinion of Microsoft Word.

That said, specific product names are probably less important than explaining the overall scenario. Again, focus on yourself. Instead of naming specific branded products, describe the problem as you did here - that you were able to add a feature from one product onto another product. Think about what made you successful as you did that and describe those factors, rather than just focusing on naming or not naming the product, or the public's opinion about the product you worked on.

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