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How to Include a Hackathon on a Resume in 2024

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Got some cool hackathon experience? This guide will show you how to put it front and center on your resume.
Apr 13, 2023 5 min read

Ever joined a hackathon? It’s more than just a marathon of coding. Think of it as a badge of honor that illustrates your skills, creativity, and teamwork, not to mention your knack for pulling through under a tight deadline.

Now, if turning that experience into a killer resume addition sounds tempting, you’re at the right starting point. We'll show you how to make your hackathon wins eye-catching. From discussing where to put them, to how to talk about what you did—from the project you worked on, to the valuable skills you learned.

Our goal is to take your hackathon participation from being just another detail to a key conversation starter on your resume.

Here’s what we are going to answer:

  • Is it beneficial to include your hackathon experience on your resume?
  • Why do recruiters often prefer candidates with hackathon experience for interviews?
  • How do hackathons boost your interpersonal and technical skills?
  • What are some tips on adding your hackathon participation to grab recruiters' attention?
  • How can you use your hackathon projects to find a new job?

Should you put a hackathon on your resume?

You definitely should include your hackathon experience on your resume. It could only be beneficial for you to show potential employers your passion for programming. Moreover, hackathons are not just about coding. They're a playground for innovation, collaboration, and pushing the boundaries of what's possible with technology.

Recruiters favor candidates with hackathon experience for interviews because it shows they have hands-on skills, can work well in teams, and are good at problem-solving. Emphasizing your participation can showcase your enthusiasm for learning and your commitment to staying updated with the latest industry trends.

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PRO TIP

When choosing a resume format we recommend a functional layout since it focuses on the hard and soft skills you got better at in hackathons. It shows why you're right for the job, especially if you're moving to a new area or have lots of different kinds of experience.

How hackathons improve your hard and soft skills

Hackathons serve as a platform for enhancing both your soft and hard skills in a real-world, collaborative environment. When it comes to hard skills, these intensive events push you to apply your technical knowledge under close deadlines. It's more than just showing off your coding or tech skills—it's about figuring out how to solve tricky problems. Often, you have to learn new tech stuff on the spot to get it done.

But it's not all about the tech. Hackathons are teamwork in action. You're chatting, planning, and sometimes even debating with your teammates to get that project across the finish line. This is where those all-important soft skills like communication, teamwork, and time management get to shine.

What you do in your free time can really impact how recruiters view your application. If you're into hackathons during your personal time, it tells recruiters you're dedicated to innovation and ready to face new challenges. It shows that you're actively seeking to improve your professional and social skills. This involvement in hackathons is a clear indicator to hiring managers that you're adaptable and can bring positive energy to any workplace, whether it's a large corporation or a startup.

Let's move on to the main point of this article, which is how and where to put your hackathon experience on your resume.

How to add hackathon experience to a resume

There are different sections where it would be relevant to add your hackathon participation.

You can add your hackathon participation to your resume, either in the summary (if you have lots of experience) or in the objective statement (if you're new to the field). Keep this section concise, aiming for no more than 5 sentences, and get straight to the point.

Employers are more likely to notice resumes that have a clear and organized layout, feature a summary or objective at the top, and use fonts that are easy to read.

When the hackathon aligns closely with your professional field, including it in the work experience section of your resume can be effective. This approach demonstrates not only your technical skills but also your ability to apply them in real-world scenarios, which can be particularly appealing to hiring managers seeking practical experience.

If you've developed applications, software, or other projects during hackathons that are relevant to your desired position, feature them in an additional “Projects” section on your resume. Briefly describe them, showing how they relate to your field and highlighting the problem-solving or technical skills they demonstrate.

  • Create a customized section

Adding hackathon experience as a separate resume section allows you to put the focus on these events. Under a heading like “Hackathons”, you can detail each hackathon you've participated in. 

In a section dedicated to hackathon experience, make sure to:

  • Specify the name of the hackathon you participated in.
  • Include the name of the organization that hosted the hackathon.
  • Add the technologies or programming languages you used during each hackathon.
  • Mention any awards or certifications you received.
  • Describe the role you played during the event.
  • Highlight any significant achievements or contributions you made during the hackathon.

How can you use your hackathon projects to find a new job?

Job seekers who include an updated LinkedIn profile link in their resumes have a 71% higher chance of getting interviews compared to those who don't.

Have a few hackathon projects in your portfolio?

That’s awesome because they’re actually gold for finding a new job. You can add them to your GitHub or LinkedIn profile. Besides, we highly recommend you engage on platforms such as Stack Overflow because they're a hub for discovering job opportunities and connecting with companies looking for someone with your exact set of skills and experiences.

Remember, the key is not just to display your projects but to tell the story behind them. Highlight the problem you aimed to solve, the approach you took, the technologies you leveraged, and the outcome of your efforts.

Examples of how to put hackathon on a resume

Including hackathon participation in your resume can distinguish you from other candidates. We already explained where you can add it, and now it’s time for 3 practical examples.

Our first example shows how to present the hackathon experience within the summary section.

Summary
Experienced software developer skilled in turning tech challenges into solutions. My participation in the Code for Good Hackathon revealed this passion to me. Proficient in React and Node.js, I excel in developing web applications and collaborating effectively within teams. Eager to bring my technical know-how and proven track record to a dynamic new role.
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This example is for candidates who are looking for their first job or an internship.  

Objective
Ready for my first job, my experience at the Code for Good Hackathon proved to me that I love solving tech problems with new ideas. I have some experience gained from college projects with React and Node.js. Looking forward to learning more and contributing to great projects in a professional setting.
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The third example shows how your hackathon experience would look if you put it in the work experience section.

Hackathon Experience
Participant
Code for Good Hackathon
San Francisco, CA
Participated in a 24-hour hackathon focused on creating technology solutions for non-profit organizations.
  • Developed a web application using React and Node.js to automate the donation process for a local food bank.
  • Collaborated with a team of developers, designers, and non-profit professionals to create a functional prototype.
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The last example illustrates how to list your hackathon participation in an additional “Project” section of your resume.

Hackathon project
Participant
San Francisco, CA
Participated in a 24-hour hackathon focused on creating technology solutions for non-profit organizations.
  • Developed a web application using React and Node.js to automate the donation process for a local food bank.
  • Collaborated with a team of developers, designers, and non-profit professionals to create a functional prototype.
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Key takeaways

So, to sum things up, let’s go over what really stood out and what we're taking away from the article.

  • Hackathons go beyond coding and allow you to demonstrate skills, creativity, and teamwork.
  • Including hackathon experience on your resume highlights your passion for programming and innovation.
  • Recruiters like candidates with hackathon experience because it shows practical skills and problem-solving abilities.
  • Your participation in hackathons during personal time signals dedication and a proactive approach to professional growth to recruiters.
  • Adding hackathon experience to your resume can be done in the beginning as a summary or objective section, a custom section, within work experience, or under a projects section.
  • Sharing your hackathon projects on platforms like GitHub, LinkedIn, or Stack Overflow can open up new job opportunities.
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Volen Vulkov
Volen Vulkov is a resume expert and the co-founder of Enhancv. He has written more than 500 resume guides and deep-dive articles on how to create your resume and cover letter, that inspire job applicants to make a resume to be proud of. His work has been featured in Forbes, Zendesk, HubSpot, and Business Insider, and cited by top universities and educational institutions, like Thunderbird School of Management, Rochester University, University of Miami, and Udemy. Volen applies his deep knowledge and practical experience to write about career changes, development, and how to stand out in the job application process.
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