IT Employment

Quick resume tip: List accomplishments not duties

Don't just list your job responsibilities in a resume. Think of each one in terms of an accomplishment that can be qualified.

A very common resume mistake that many people make is to list their professional experience by company and then list their perspective responsibilities under each one. If you think about it, all that's telling a potential employer is what you were expected to do at your previous jobs--it doesn't necessarily mean that you actually did any of them or that you were good at any of them.

For example, keeping your company's Web site up might be one of your duties, but unless you can express that as an accomplishment in terms of downtime percentages, then it really doesn't have much punch. Try to stay away from the words, Duties or Responsible for...

You can list what you were in charge of in past jobs but do it in terms of what was accomplished. Before you list a responsibility, think of how you can rephrase it to reflect how your action saved the company money or time, or how it expanded the business or attracted new customers.

Think of your efforts in terms of how they helped your organization overcome a problem. Did you leave your employers better off than before you came along? How did you do that?

So, if one of your "duties" is optimizing the network for customers, state it as, "Maintain strict adherence to customer turnaround times, consistently achieving on-time completion of system repairs." Don't just state the responsibility. Be specific about how well you did it.

Try to qualify statements whenever you can with figures or measurements.

(To help you keep track of your accomplishments at each job, here is a free Accomplishments Tracking template you can download from TechRepublic.)

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

17 comments
RayJeff
RayJeff

Your job doesn't give you the chance or opportunity to do so. I haven't read the posts yet, but I think that some have touched on what I'm going to say. Not many IT professionals are in a position at their jobs, past or present to be able to offer up accomplishments on their resumes. For many of us who many work in tech support roles (desktop, hardware, or the alike), we just aren't given the chance. And even if so, how can you really qualify it unless it's part of a major project that may have come once. For me, the majority of my work has been in tech support. During that time for about 3 years, but sheer luck and coincidence, I got the change to do some major programming and database work. It was major because I was developing a system from the ground up, that was not in place before. I've added all of that to my resume. Has it opened doors to be considered for application development jobs or data management jobs? No, it hasn't. I have maybe 2 interviews for such positions since that job. I would have to question does qualifying really help or not when you look at a resume in the big picture.

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

And probably 50% of them are pure BS. When 50% of applicants over-inflate their accomplishments, the rest of us have to deal with the 10-member panel interviews, the 7 hour marathon interviews, and the multiple interviews with everyone from the janitor to the CEO. Why? Because companies feel the need to have to weed out the B.S. artists when that should have been taken care of by HR.

emercer
emercer

In my line of work, I don't get to see the results from my contributions. I'm a technical writer and the documentation I write may improve a customer's experience with using the product, but I can only imagine if it does. So, my resume lists the types of documentation I've created and the purpose it served. As far as being able to `rephrase it to reflect how your action saved the company money or time, or how it expanded the business or attracted new customers,` I have struggled with that concept and have yet to figure out how I can use that approach.

otimenya
otimenya

Quite a realistic and concrete tip. Thumbs up! My only concern is whether employers and recruiters are well aware of these current changes in the format and presentation of CVs. One may wrongly be taken to be bragging or over-confident in their quest for a job.

John_LI_IT_Guy
John_LI_IT_Guy

99.9% Network Uptime. 98.5% of SLA's achieved. Saved the company $1.5 million dollars in hardware expenditures. Wa Wa Wa. Anyone can fluff up a resume with fancy percentages and numbers. In the end all it amounts to is unverifiable numbers and resume fluff.

lecapri
lecapri

While qualifying resume helps in many ways, in this tough economic climate, your network of friends and who you know would get you that initial interview. I've known many people in my line of work who have experiences and resumes that are excellent but couldn't even get a return call. And I also know people that were hired for positions that the only experience they have was perhaps taking a 3-day seminar on one of the items in the job description but because they knew someone within the company that gave them the "first interview" (wink, wink) and ultimate got the job. Networking is still the best route out there. Just my 2 cents.

JamesRL
JamesRL

..or why would they pay you? Not all acheivements have to be monetary, but if you have a monetary achievement, its good to list. I saved a company twice my salary one year, but it didn't stop me from being laid off in the wave of reductions. But if you look, there must be some "achievements", like introducing new standards, improving the quality of the docs, or reducing the number of support calls by creating better docs. I already know what a tech writer does, tell me what you have done as a tech writer or as a general employee that has contributed to the business. That will make you stand out. James

JamesRL
JamesRL

When I was job hunting in 2002 in North America, this was an essential if you wanted your resume to generate some call backs. Its pretty much standard now. But as I said, you have to be able to tell them how you achieved your results. James

Sobe1Knobe
Sobe1Knobe

Don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining!

Pete6677
Pete6677

True, but that is how the game is played. Job hunting is all about the BS. Whoever can do it best gets the job.

JamesRL
JamesRL

...I was a system admin making sure Microsoft exchange servers worked properly. But better still would be ...improved the Network uptime from X.XX to Y.YY. Because that would get me, the hiring manager curious. And that might get me to ask them for an interview. Sure it may be fluff, but you can bet I am going to ask, so how did you do it, what were the obstacles and how did you overcome them. Its not fluff if you can back it up. James

santeewelding
santeewelding

You missed the opportunity to spiff up your dismissive fillip by not modifying your second use of "numbers" with a symmetric, "fanciful". Your comment is unbalanced.

RayJeff
RayJeff

I agree. In many cases, this is so true.

John Quillen
John Quillen

I'd much prefer to work with people who see through the BS and hire the people that can do their jobs well.

dmk1
dmk1

I agree it is easy (and perhaps tempting) to fluff up a resume. But as James pointed out, it isn't fluff if you can back it up. And since a resume's purpose is only to get you to the next step--an interview--you will have no choice but to back up your accomplishment claims. That is, as long as the interviewer knows what they're doing, and asks in-depth questions about your past. Dan www.newcorporatelife.com

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