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I have achieved something significant in my job, something that can be used to tell others in my next interview. However, the achievement is directly tied with monetary value, which I am not allowed to mention according to my job contract.

Hypothetical examples:

  1. I've reduced the cloud cost 33% by moving from cloud provider A to cloud provider B.
  2. I've fixed a bug that would've costed the company 5% of its revenue.
  3. I've implemented a replacement for a third-party framework that would save the company 10 USD per month, net.

Example 3 directly mentions the monetary value "10 USD", which would be a violation of the contract. Example 1 and 2 don't directly mentions the monetary value, but the information can be easily guessed from figures in the internet. They don't technically violate the contract, but I am curious if there is a way to still describe the significance of the achievements without mentioning such figures.

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  • what is the wording of this contract that makes you think you cannot share your accomplishments? how exactly do you think that anyone would hear about what is said in an interview? – bharal May 5 '20 at 14:05
  • @bharal It not exactly the contract that is restricting me. The contract just got me thinking if this is possible at all. – krismath May 5 '20 at 15:07
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    well, if the contract isn't restricting you, what is? and if there is no restriction, why are you hesitant to put your accomplishments directly down, either on paper cv or in person in the interview? – bharal May 5 '20 at 15:13
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If you can't mention cold hard numbers, percentages are the obvious way to communicate the scale of change. In fact, I'd argue that knowing the relative change can be more impactful - for example knocking $1,000 off a budget doesn't seem huge in real terms but present it as a 33% reduction on a $3.000 budget, well that's much more impressive.

The other way to approach this is to use words which speak to the extent of the achievement. So words like...

  • Substantial
  • Significant
  • Considerable
  • Extensive
  • Sizable

My inclination would be to use descriptive words on a CV but be prepared to roll out the stats during interview.

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You should probably focus on your contribution and what you did.

Lets take fixing the bug that would have cost money. What are the chances any of your colleagues would have fixed that bug just the same you did? Was it just chance who ducked last when the supervisor dealt issues to fix to each of you? And why was it 5%? Would it have been only 4% if someone else had fixed it? Or lets take the 33% savings on the cloud provider move. Was it something you came up with on your own? Why was it 33%?

My point is: none of those "accomplishments" tell me anything about you. Try to find out what stands out about you that made those accomplishments possible in the first place.

Maybe you were on top of the market rates of cloud providers and could support the decision with facts and numbers. Maybe you knew the technology to switch to. Maybe you had the skills to fix the bug that nobody else had. Tell those stories. They don't need monetary value, because you don't actually have any influence over that. You saved 33% on cloud providers because one was 33% cheaper than the other. If you own neither of the two providers, then that's not exactly your accomplishment. If it had been only 10% cheaper, you would have saved only 10%. The point is that your skills enabled a company to switch providers at all, that is the useful bit of information to sell yourself, that is a big project to have worked on and advertise.

Don't tout numbers. They are meaningless. Tell the story of what you did to make that happen, what skills you have to help their business.

Related question: Contributions in a CV for developers


As a real world example of what I mean: I once fixed a bug that would have cost the company half a million Euros. Not in some obscure estimated or "opportunity lost" way, but in the hard cash way where the companies contract says they will pay half a million in penalty for breach of contract if it isn't fixed in 24 hours. What did I do? I got the bug ticket, I opened my IDE, I saw that the previous developer had ignored a warning that warned of exactly the bad behavior we were observing, I fixed it and deployed it. It was nothing special. Just a day at the job. Most of my apprentices could have done it. "I saved the company 500.000€ in a day" is both true and completely meaningless without context. I made sure that nobody would ever again be able to check in code that had unsolved warnings, so this would not happen again. That was my accomplishment. Not everybody would have done that. And I'm happy to talk about that.

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