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I've left my place of employment and I've been fixing up my resume, etc, but while adding to an "Achievements" section, I thought about all the ideas I originally brought up to the company. Being much lower in the hierarchy, my ideas had no bearing, and were commonly ignored or rejected. After over 2 years of my ideas being rejected or ignored, my employer hired someone in a more senior position to handle system architecture, and within his first 2 months of being there, he implemented many of the ideas (and began planning for many of the other ideas as well) I previously mentioned. I mentioned this to my boss in a review, and was basically shrugged off (claims she didn't remember any of it).

I honestly don't care about that since I no longer work there, but I want to know if (even though I didn't get to implement any of them) I'm still able to attribute the ideas to myself and take some credit for it on my resume?

If so, how would I go about adding intangible items to my resume (like ideas that I researched and proposed, but were only later implemented due to someone else's recommendation)?

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TL;DR; Ideas that don't get implemented don't carry any economic value. And in an interview, you are fundamentally being assessed under economic constraints.

  • Focus as much as you can on value that you have actually created.
  • Talk about your ideas to show that you're software development hasn't reached its full potential, and that you will be paying attention to implementing your ideas in your next development project.

It sounds like the complementary aspects of being smart and getting things done.
I'm relating from a similar experience - where I was a novice programmer solely responsible for a Data-Warehouse architecture (talk about underqualified?!), and with time I pointed out many underlying architectural errors that needed mending, and even made a prototype and some partial implementations - but my ideas always faded into non-existance due to my manager never telling me "Yes, good idea - you should make this your priority." and instead having me focus on further features. Now the thing is a huge mess, and most problems are accompanied by an "I told you so..." - but somehow I still feel it is my shortcoming, not my manager's, since my manager is more clueless about software than me, and it is my responsibility as specialist to point out the right priorities for the value of a software system, particularly in the long-term.

The Idea The fact that you had good ideas shows that you're smart. In your resume you want to show that you're smart, but I wouldn't get to specific about it. These are some great things to talk about in an interview.

The Implementation In the end it all comes down to getting an idea implemented - and I think that really is the challenge of software development; particularly given unsupportive work-environments, changing requirements and tight deadlines. What counts is what you get done. And what you actually got done is what you should firstly focus on in as much detail without becoming boring, because this is the real proof of your value as a developer.

To read: Economic value of a programmer.

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    This is a fantastic answer. There is a related answer I made the other day which is quite similar. I think your answer is even more spot on, because in this case it seems as if the ideas were implemented independently from the suggestions, and the only thing worse than someone who doesn't know what needs to be improved, is someone who believes they know what needs to be improved but can't get it done and doesn't see that as a shortcoming. – jmac Apr 3 '14 at 6:48
  • This is a great answer. The issue I was running into was that ALL of my ideas were later implemented, but not a single one of them was implemented due to my suggestion I didn't have any pull, regardless of how important the ideas were. I completely relate with your previous experience though. It really does get difficult when all you do is pile features on top of issues... The issues just get bigger. As for focusing on what I have done, I've already finished my resume. I only asked to see about rounding out my "Achievements" section. – Sivvy Apr 3 '14 at 18:18
  • @Sivvy The matter of not having any pull... it may be tough to accept, but you don't receive merit for ideas you have. You receive merit, and people listen to you and do what you say, according to your ability to convince them - and for convincing people, good ideas are just the necessary beginning. – Rafael Emshoff Apr 4 '14 at 5:49
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Rather than insist that they are 'your ideas', simply indicate that you had laid out a set of proposals that were implemented by the team. In short, the fact your manager ignored you is a detail - the ideas were good, they were used, and the operation runs better as a result. If the new employer sees that you can explain your thinking, it's as valid as if you had implemented them directly. Getting out was the right thing to do, however you'll need to make sure the new employer actually values what you're offering.

  • Thanks. Good point that it should be as valid as if I'd implemented the idea myself. They definitely had some benefit from it. – Sivvy Apr 2 '14 at 22:14
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You need to be a bit careful how you bring this up. You don't want to seem catty towards your last job by mentioning that they implemented something you thought up without giving you credit, or even acknowledgement.

You could put something on your resume like "Added value to the team by collaborating and suggesting ways to enhance the system architecture on a regular basis." If you really want to, you can add something like "... that were later implemented." The interviewer doesn't need to know when.

The interviewer will likely ask what these ideas are, and you can say them. If they asked how it worked out, tell them. You can leave out the part where the ideas were ignored until someone else thought them up again.

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I probably wouldn't bother. If you put the ideas down in your resume, then don't be surprised and wax indignant if they get extracted from your resume and get used elsewhere without giving you any attribution. Putting all of ideas down as a one-size-fits-all could be dicey with a prospective employer if some apply to one type of situation and not to another.

I prefer to discuss my ideas at the interviews, where I can use some of them to get prospective employers interested and excited about the prospect and promise of hiring ME :)

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