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8 years ago (time flies doesn't it?), I won a first-place award at a national collegiate conference for software development. At the same conference, I also received first place in a PC troubleshooting competition.

My career path has been through software development and I now find myself in a position of leading/managing an engineering team. I expect to continue down the path of a technical manager, maintaining my capability to develop software on my own while delivering a competent team to meet business needs.

I'm not necessarily looking for a job at the moment, but I like to keep my resume up-to-date. Without a specific job in mind, do I include this award from 8 years ago? It seems to me that it's dated and that my current experiences and work stand on their own. However, in every interview I've had, that point has come up as a positive. Admittedly, it's been 3 years since I was last looking for work so it may not be as relevant now. I think I should definitely remove the "PC Troubleshooting" award.

I realize this is somewhat opinion-based, so let me boil it down into a simple question:

At what point do past accomplishments become irrelevant when applying for jobs?

Edit: To clarify, there are other accomplishments related to real work since then, and this award has always been last on the resume, in the "notable projects an achievements" section. I've found in interviews that saving Company X a bunch of money while doing something important is not as interesting to most interviewers as winning something. I think it's dated at this point though, and will be removing it. I appreciate all the feedback!

  • First place is first place. If played a collegiate sport or qualified for the Olympics list it. If you made the finals in a spelling bee in 8th grade list it. To me tops at something to me is worth listing. – paparazzo Jun 24 '15 at 1:49
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    Al Bundy was star quarterback in high school, but it didn't help him much in later life. A long gap without follow up recognition might raise questions about what happened after the 15 minutes of fame. – Eric Jun 24 '15 at 2:35
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Short answer: Unless it's completely relevant to the role you are applying for and you have no subsequent experience, it's not really worth adding.

If you have any sort of industry experience (8 years in your case, somewhat... more for me ;) ), then what your grades were at school, what awards you won are not really going to sell your employability. If you are a fresh graduate, then absolutely include it as it can differentiate you from other graduates.

There is nothing wrong with leaving it as something on the last page if you really want to. But really, unless it's relevant to the job you are applying for, it's nothing more than a bit of self-congratulation. I have some qualifications I don't include on my CV because they just aren't worth discussing.

What most employers want is proof of experience and capability for the role they are hiring for. That will trump grades and awards every single time.

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    @Blam Thanks and yes, I do understand your point :) I just know from experience as a manager that I might find it interesting but not really a reason to employ someone. As I said, it doesn't hurt to include it but it doesn't really add much value compared to relevant, current experience :) – Jane S Jun 24 '15 at 2:18
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"At what point do past accomplishments become irrelevant when applying for jobs?"

In the specific context of your question: when it is obvious that the technology involved is outdated. I don't expect you to be troubleshooting eight year old computers going forward. If you find yourself troubleshooting eight-year old computers for your employer, take that as a hint that you need to jump ship at the first harbor it gets to.

Congrats for winning that software development award eight years ago, but your skills back then were not what they are today - I hope, or you're toast.

It might be a better idea to nuke these lines that are getting long in the tooth and use the space that's freed up to list more contemporary achievements and/or capabilities that are likely to fire up a prospective employer's enthusiasm for having you on their staff, because these achievements and capabilities are more immediately relevant to their needs. If you have absolutely no contemporary and relevant achievements to point to, then it sucks to be you :)

  • Agreed completely, thank you for your feedback. Fortunately, I have plenty of more recent things to point to... they're not as flashy as a national award, but relevant none the less. – user0123456789abcdef Jun 25 '15 at 1:56
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As a hiring manager for my past employers, I remember enjoying reading what applicants listed as their top awards in college. Academic excellence? Athletic excellence? Which sport? (provides common ground to "break the ice" during interviews). If past behaviors are one of the best predictors of future behaviors, then, in general, awards earned in college demonstrate what the applicant cared about enough to participate and compete to excel among their peers. If also gives us an insight as to how they chose to spend their time and priorities during one's "best years of our lives." Accomplishments are accomplishments and they speak volumes about an individuals' resolve and/or collaborative and teaming abilities, competitive resilience, competitive nature, and other personal attributes - regardless of how long ago they achieved their awards. Personal attributes, like one's IQ, are immutable and reliable behavior predictors.

  • this post is rather hard to read (wall of text). Would you mind editing it into a better shape? – gnat Jun 24 '15 at 23:52

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