29

I am currently studying at a US university that is among the top school for the field I'm in (CS). However, the university itself is not well known outside the US, and certainly not as being on par with or better than the more well known universities (Harvard, Princeton, etc.).

I normally wouldn't mind this, but I am currently in the process of applying for jobs back home in Europe and I fear that my application would not get the same attention as those coming from more well-known schools. So my question is:

How do I mention that I obtained my degree from a top school in my field without it sounding braggy?

This would be good to know in terms of a cover letter and in an interview setting.

  • 24
    Even if your university isn't well known, if the program is top ranked, anyone really evaluating your resume likely already knows it. I have no idea about Canadian universities but I know the University of Waterloo because I'm in the CS field. I have no idea what the top schools for art restoration are but I'm pretty sure someone interviewing at the Museum of Modern Art does. The person on the street knows Harvard, the person across the table from you likely knows your school if it is generally recognized as a top school in the field. – Justin Cave Apr 16 at 2:46
  • 1
    @Mars that’s the Peter Principle at work... – Solar Mike Apr 16 at 5:23
  • 6
    This question basically distills down to, "How do I brag about my school without bragging about my school?" Which is funny, because the answer is, "You should brag about your school in an interview" :-) – Kevin Apr 16 at 13:16
  • 1
    If your university is really in the top few in the US in CS, people hiring in CS positions will likely have heard of it. – David Richerby Apr 16 at 21:39
  • 4
    On a resume, it's not bragging, it's marketing – TehShrike Apr 16 at 22:44
104

How do I mention that I obtained my degree from a top school in my field without it sounding braggy?

You use your cover letter. In it, you should brag.

Something along the lines of "I graduated summa cum laude from Tiptop University - one of the 7 top Computer Science schools in the U.S." is perfectly appropriate.

Unless your interviewer specifically asks about your schooling or about your university, there's no need to bring it up during the interview itself. Once you reach that stage, they have already read your cover letter. And if they weren't familiar with your school already and cared, they Googled it already.

  • 4
    Would one somewhere mention the institution who did the ranking, or the year of ranking? – Arsak Apr 15 at 18:44
  • 8
    @JoeStrazzere Regarding Arsak's question, if you're going to rely on the employers google search, you might want to suggest doing your own google searches first. If "my school CS dept ranking" turns up wildly different results... – Mars Apr 16 at 0:53
  • 2
    @MaartenW. Personally I would refrain, I can see an interviewer taking it like you're bragging and be annoyed. You should instead focus on what your learned, whether it's pure theory, practice, or transversal skills, how autonomous or guided it was, how many projects and group projects you completed, etc. – AmiralPatate Apr 16 at 8:11
  • 3
    Point of reference: I've always researched universities extensively and basically ignored what the candidate had to say about them. All universities have some metric where they come out on top. – Simon Richter Apr 16 at 10:00
  • 3
    "one of the 7 top schools" sounds weird. I would read that as "precisely 7th best" – Michael Apr 16 at 10:02
10

I would flip the problem around - "Show don't tell". Use your CV to demonstrate the quality of the syllabus and discuss any relevant or impressive courseworks. Ultimately you are being hired, not your school.

  • Don't be so sure of that, of course professionaly we should consider than recruitment should evaluate fully candidates but reality is that the name of your school can make a lot of difference. Even more in domain where interview aren't good at evaluating the skills of the people. – Walfrat Apr 16 at 14:21
  • 5
    I interview and make decisions on hires frequently. I barely glance at an applicant's school. I do spend a lot of time looking for experience, thought. – SethWhite Apr 16 at 14:35
3

Job interviews are the places you should be bragging. But I use numbers instead of statements to sound more polite.

So, it may sound like bragging when you say "Maybe you never heard of it's name, but it is an awesome school that people says 'wow' when they hear where you are graduated from".

But you are free to state this as "This school comes 5th in Computer Science, right after Harvard."

  • 1
    Depending on culture, this may be your case (though I don't think so in Germany (so your profile says)). It's definitely the think to do for cover letters with the resume, but would not recommend this for the actual interviews. Would drop a hint about it if the interviewer mentions the place of study, but still would not go full-on brag ;-) But, people and situations differ, so... go for it ? – rkeet Apr 16 at 9:56
  • 1
    It depends a lot of the field. If you're in sales, bragging is a needed skill. If you're in CS, full of shy and very territorial people, bragging would be viewed very negatively. – T. Sar Apr 16 at 13:16
3

On my resume (CV) I give a phrase about each company to set the basic tone of what industry or purpose it addressed was. I see no reason you couldn't do so about your school:

ABC University Anytown, USA
US Top 10 Computer Science Dept.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.