5 Practical steps to best showcase a hackathon experience in your resume

You come to a hackathon, spend intense 48 - 72 hours working on an idea you’re passionate about! These hours are full of challenges, teamwork, mentor sessions, sleepless nights, prototyping, pitching and so much more.

Now, how to best showcase the experience you gained during the hackathon to leverage it in your professional career?

Regardless of the outcome of the hackathon for you, your idea, and your team, your experience in the past 48-72 hours are what matters. This article features advice from experienced recruiters and HR professionals from a country with the most startups and unicorns per capita in the world - Estonia.


🤓 In this blog post you will learn:

  • Why do recruiters care about your hackathon experience?

  • How to best showcase your hackathon experience in an online and offline resume?

  • What to do at the hackathon to best benefit your professional development?


Keep reading to find out 👇


Is Hackathon experience something recruiters care about?


At a hackathon, you go through rapid growth which allows you to get the necessary push to develop yourself.


Hackathon alumni are extremely suitable for the startup industry, but not only. In addition to recruiters, startup owners are out on a hunt for a hackathon alumni talent pool, as there is a great cultural and mindset fit.

Passion for the product and startup life is something recruiters often look for in a great candidate. Participating in fast-paced and high-energy events like hackathons and thriving in this environment is the best way to show that. Technical skills will only get you halfway; passion, communication, and teamwork skills are as important. Hackathons are a great way of developing and showing them.

- Helen Piirsalu, Talent Manager at Snackable AI


Mission first mindset


HR managers are always trying to get to know more about the candidate’s personality, assess it, and decide if such a candidate really fits into a given company or workplace.

 

Having a hackathon as part of your professional development activities attaches a certain set of qualities to your persona: mission mindset, growth attitude, challenge-oriented character, and passion. Your hackathon experience can be a quick proof of your soft skills when a recruiter looks through your CV.


Adding a hackathon experience to your CV makes you stand out in a broad pool of candidates. Participating in hackathons signals to recruiters that you are willing to learn and challenge yourself. It shows that you’re passionate about what you do and that you enjoy collaborating with other people. These traits are needed in any workplace where teamwork and active learning are valued. 

Ina Mononen, Account Manager at Relancer

---- Garage48 team at Garage48 Food Hackathon

What you do outside of work says a lot about what kind of culture and attitude you will bring to the workplace. Usually, hackathon participation is done in one's free time, which signals to recruiters that this person is passionate about innovation, growth, and challenges. Taking part in a hackathon is also a team effort, which gives a chance to apply teamwork abilities and strengthen them.


As working in tech is so popular in Estonia, hundreds of people start studying various areas of it every year. It can be challenging to stand out from the crowd and get the creme de la creme job offers. This is where everything extra comes in. There is no better “extra” than participating in a Hackathon to showcase your teamwork capabilities, product mindset, desire to develop yourself, and much more!

-Kristiine Kukk , Head of Recruitment at Veriff

--- Garage48 Future of Wood participants working on their prototype

Be prepared with stories! When I see events like a Hackathon on a candidate's resume, this gets me so excited! I want to know how you worked with others, what you learned from it, where you hope to take the knowledge with your future goals. Tell me everything!

- Christina De Giovanni, Talent Acquisition & Employer Branding Lead at Katana Manufacturing ERP


Professional Network


Companies value when a candidate has a wide professional network as it brings a lot of benefits. Hackathons allow you to widen your network and build meaningful and long-lasting connections. 


When you have a wide network of people around you, whenever you are facing a new challenge you can ask for help to solve the problem quicker.


There is no better crowd to spend your time with than the passionate startup crowd! Especially as these are the people who have tons of great business ideas popping up all the time. Or, they themselves like to work in companies with meaningful products and services. If you stand out to them & your cooperation goes well, they might want to continue this on a daily basis! Co-op on a Hackathon might bring you juicy job offers even years from the actual event.

- Kristiine Kukk, Head of Recruitment at Veriff


Recruiters rely heavily on LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements because on social media this is the most accurate depiction of how a job seeker is viewed by his or her peers in specific professions.



Endorsements are useful since they elaborate on why a job prospect is qualified and easy to work with, whereas recommendations demonstrate how well-known a candidate is in specific industries and what their varied talents are.


If you are working closely with a mentor that you enjoy. It is always an option to ask for a reference from the mentor that you can put on your CV and ask them to write you a recommendation on Linkedin.



Checking endorsements/recommendations received and given is something I put high value in as this tells me how you work with others and how others view you from a professional lens. This is the modern-day reference in my opinion and you know you've made an impact when someone takes the time out of their day to leave a note. Alternatively, when you participate in something like a Hackathon (or any kind of project), it would be perfectly acceptable to ask and share endorsements for how you worked on the team and what specific pieces you contributed.

- Christina De Giovanni, Talent Acquisition & Employer Branding Lead at Katana Manufacturing ERP

---- Ettevõtlik Pärnakas Hackathon participants working with mentors

How to best showcase your hackathon experience?


For anyone working in HR, it is important to assess and know more about a person's skills. So your way of showing what kind of skills you have really depended on what you were doing at the hackathon and which role you had.


 1. Include relevant information


Most recruiters will scan a bulleted keyword section at the top of your resume to find matching keywords from the position they are trying to fill. Make sure your resume includes the most relevant keywords and put this section at the top of your resume.


Include programming languages or tools that you were using or learned during the hackathon, to make sure to leverage the relevant keywords to the area in which you want to work.


Here we will provide you with a general structure you can follow to make sure you have the maximum relevant information presented:

  1. What was the hackathon about, where, and when it took place?

  2. Your Role in the team.

  3. What solution you were building, mention people with whom you were working, how big was your team.  

  4. What kind of value did you bring to the team? If you were working on a technical side of the solution, which languages you were using. If you were in charge of marketing business what activities did you do (for ex. Crafted a value proposition)

  5. What was the outcome? Share something you’re proud of. Not only does it show your skills, but also your competencies in solving problems as well.


Did you win a prize and what was it? But your accomplishments go beyond winning something at the hackathon. Write about your primary accomplishments in the past 48-72 hours. You can say a lot about your hackathon experience just by simply writing accomplishment-based statements on your resume.


Attach numbers or metrics to everything when possible. In case you are proud of some achievements that you or your team did, difficult challenges, then it would be beneficial for you to also mention these aspects.

- Roberto Orrù, Tech Recruiter at Teslio



Also, if you were working with a well-known mentor, some other people that had an impact on your hackathon experience, it is definitely worth mentioning them.


Here are some examples from past hackathon participants from SPACETECH EUROPE Online Hackathon and Garage48 Food 👇


If you're a software developer or a designer - make sure to focus most specifically on the things you did during this event that helped you expand your skillset and grow. While I would touch on this during an interview, those keywords and specifics would help immensely in giving a recruiter insight into your experience.

- Christina De Giovanni, Talent Acquisition & Employer Branding Lead at Katana Manufacturing ERP


2. To post or not to post?


Well, in this case, we have a clear answer - to post. Do not overthink, positing something about your experience is always better than nothing and it doesn't have to be perfectly crafted.


First, we are looking at Linkedin. Glassdoor etc. Then we go into more specifics in the interview. Yes, we go through posts on Linkedin as well. We always look at the skills and what was the problem that was solved and if it is a right fit, I often connect with the person.

- Liis Paemurru, HR Lead and Change Management Consultant

---

JOBVITE Recruiter National Survey

Both professional and casual social media platforms are common sources for possible job candidates for recruiters. When recruiters are looking for the best applicants for an interview or job offer, they use sites like LinkedIn and others to gather the information that, in addition to resumes, will help them make the best decision possible.

When being involved in something that makes you happy & grow, always share! While sharing on Linkedin is crucial, I would always recommend sharing on other platforms as well. Quite often a post on social media will reach an old friend who might work at a company today that would want to hire someone like you. The post doesn’t always have to reach the recruiter directly - when an employee refers you to a job, it’s one of the most probable ways to get to an interview.

- Kristiine Kukk, Head of Recruitment at Veriff


3. Where to post your hackathon experience


✍🏼 Under Big projects on your profile

If you have been to many hackathons, you can summarize it under one job section and mention all of the challenges you were solving, the main skills, and the main projects.


😎 On the newsfeed of the social network

 It is worth posting online that you’re attending a hackathon and getting more people in your network who can potentially help you.


After reading the 'About Me' section on Linkedin, the next step in my process would be to see if there is anything under 'Featured'. I appreciate the use here as you can post links to projects you've participated in as well as create an article of your own to highlight your accomplishments such as Hackathon participation.

- Christina De Giovanni, Talent Acquisition & Employer Branding Lead at Katana Manufacturing ERP


4. Share lessons learned


Sharing stories from the hackathon go beyond just posting about winning a prize. What is also worth sharing are the lessons that you have learned during the hackathon. That is like a compressed piece of content about your genuine experience of what went right, what went wrong, and why it went that way,


Examples: lessons learned at the hack and your feelings while participating. How did you solve conflicts in the team? How and with whom did you collaborate?


Taling about it showcases your ability to be self-aware and reflect on your work. What knowledge are you going to take with you for the future?


These are all very valuable for your own growth and add tremendous value to your ability to stand out to the recruiters.


Example of an article that was written by one of the participants of The Global Hack 

- Stepan Bolotnikov, Senior Front End Engineer at Snackable AI 👇

5. What not to do


Do not post too much, having too many posts is rather off-putting, focus on creating a few but high-value ones.


You do not need to make a written CV with your hackathon experience, post your experience on Linkedin, you never know who might read your content and be interested,


Coming to the hackathon just to put something on your resume is not worth it, because it is very visible when the motivation behind is not genuine.

---

As Hackathons are intense, it’s difficult to hide who you really are and your true intentions. As you’re spending this time with people you will meet again and again in your future jobs, be genuine - the same way employees refer their great counterparts for jobs, they can do the opposite.

- Kristiine Kukk, Head of Recruitment at Veriff


How to get most of the hackathon to benefit your professional growth


Be proactive at the hackathon, seek to get the most value for you.


Ask yourself: what kind of mentors, conversations, team, ideas would allow you to develop your skills?


Go to a hackathon with a game plan for what you'd like to gain out of the experience. Be prepared to walk out of it with not only an expanded network but relevant stories to make the impact of the Hackathon last beyond that event.

- Christina De Giovanni, Talent Acquisition & Employer Branding Lead at Katana Manufacturing ERP

--- Garage48 Wood participants working with mentors

Work and engage in conversations with participants and mentors, network. If you come to the event with the intention to learn, enjoy and get the most of it, your attitude will be visible and you will stand out!

From the participant’s point of view, you can get a lifetime of experience as you can see how the agile world works and how things get done in 48 hours, all of this you can also bring to the workplace and you get a very wide network of people and network is what counts in the job market.

- Liis Paemurru, HR Lead and Change Management Consultant


Hope this article helps best present your hackathon experience. 🚀 

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About the author

tamara bezljudova

Tamara is the CMO at Garage48, her dog Luni is her biggest personality trait. She cares about the Garage48 mission and writes about the impact events make on global and local communities. Want to get featured? Contact her! 💁🏻‍♀️

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