If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first six sharpening my ax. — Abraham Lincoln
A job sketch represents the time it takes to sharpen your ax. It’s an investment
of time that pays huge dividends. The job sketch is what high-tech people refer to as a brain dump or data dump.
It is a stream-of-consciousness-like review of everything you can recall from each job and an analysis of the results you achieved. Creating an effective job sketch is not difficult, but it does require time and concentration. Our use of job sketches since the 1980s has led to dramatic improvements in the resumes our clients write. Produce a job sketch for each job you intend to include in your resume.
To get a sense of what a job sketch is, review Example 1, on page 36. You’ll see how a person simply recalls duties, projects, and results. Notice the impact the results have in the job narrative appearing after the job sketch.
The key to a good job sketch is to simply write whatever pops into your mind. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling, just get your thoughts on paper. Go for volume. Write quickly. Don’t filter out or neglect to put something down because you think it is insignificant. Only a small portion of your job sketch will end up in the resume, but you will need plenty of data to work with. Don’t forget those minor duties that you rarely perform. Some of those minor duties could demonstrate just enough exposure or experience to get you invited to an interview.
After you’ve listed duties, get to work on any projects you managed or con
tributed to. Then write a brief description of each, including results and out
comes. A project is anything that has a definite beginning and end.
For instance, bookkeeping, as a job, has ongoing daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly activities. Bookkeeping projects can include analyzing the current system to identify areas of improvement, implementing a new software package, or designing a new compensation formula for sales reps.
The true value of the job sketch lies in compelling you to confront your successes, to recall them, relive them, and value them all over again. Once you begin writing, the floodgates will open. Using job sketches will also reduce or eliminate the writer’s block that so many experience.
Even if you are intending to simply add one job to your existing resume, use this as an opportunity to strengthen your resume top to bottom. If your resume contains only duties with few or no results, a complete rewrite is probably in order.
Most of us live in the present. We are concerned with our current jobs, duties, bosses, customers, and a lot more. We can barely remember what we did last week, let alone two or three jobs ago. Recalling previous accomplishments, even duties, can be challenging.
The job sketch is your ticket back in time.
Begin with your current or most recent job. There are two ways to start.
The first method is to simply list your most important responsibilities. What do you do on a daily basis? Weekly? Monthly? Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or listing each function in order of importance. Go for volume. If you have a formal job description—use it as a starting point—then pitch it. Jobs have a way of evolving faster than the published job description.
The other method is to recall if there was a particular mission you were hired or recruited to complete. Turn around a sales program? Improve productivity? Redesign a department? Reclaim lost business? If so, recreate your success. What did you do first? Next? What were your obstacles? Your incremental successes?
Whichever method you choose, you will be surprised at how much information pours forth—like opening a floodgate.
Again, don’t skimp. The more you recall, the more you will have to choose from when you actually write the resume. Include everything you can remember, regardless of how unimportant some activities might seem in the grand scheme of things. Be sure to include anything you have done that is related to your current objective, even if it only amounted to a fraction of your actual responsibilities. It still demonstrates exposure to the job you are looking at.
When you have squeezed out every drop of juice from your ongoing duties and responsibilities, dig into your projects. Treat them as mini job sketches. Projects include any task that had a definable beginning, middle, and end. See the project in the senior technician’s job sketch below.
As you read the sample job sketches, and the job narratives that resulted from them, notice the impact that the results had. After reading the polished versions of the following job narratives, you will have the definite sense that these three people are very good at what they do.
This first job sketch is thorough and detailed. It took all of 30 minutes to write. Yours may take longer, especially those further back in time. The subsequent job narrative in the actual resume practically wrote itself.
The electronics technician below caught mistakes, solved problems, and constantly identified better ways to do things for a medical equipment manufacturer. Notice how those qualities come through loud and clear. Note how you get a strong sense of what this person is about. Emulate this in your own job sketches.
Test-printed circuit boards, end items, and systems according to test procedures set by engineering. Troubleshoot down to component level.
Confer with clinical personnel if problems occur with functionality of units, kits, etc. Identify problems and suggest solutions.
Interface with design and R&D engineering regarding fit, form, or functional flaws or problems. Suggest solutions. On the Y235 scanner, suggested solutions
that reduced time to produce prototype by four months. On the U454 scanner, identified a problem that would have cost more than $200,000 to fix in the production phase.
Work closely with production, test, and assembly personnel to ensure a proper
Work with Quality Control on functional as well as cosmetic problems. Fix if necessary or show why QC documents are wrong or why specifications should be changed. Changes in specifications typically speeded up production by 10–15%.
Work with Material Control to ensure parts are available when needed. Expedite shipments when necessary.
Assist engineering in setting up preclinical trials for prototype products.
Check out functional test procedures for Test Engineering to ensure they are correct, practical, and understandable.
Review printed circuit-board schematics and assembly drawings and make corrections where necessary.
Project: Developed a process for storing and maintaining all new product test procedures, drawings, specifications, and parts lists. Many old drawings are still kept on paper or polyester film, but 80% are now electronically stored. Researched numerous software packages that could handle the volume and complexity of drawings and documents that we deal with. Learned the software and trained employees in its usage. This hard copy filing system and the electronic system have improved access and use of all data and save approximately 400 man-hours per year. Previously engineers and technicians often did not seek out older data that we had stored because it could take an hour or more to find some physical files and the electronically stored data was often just as time consuming to find.
Notice how points in the final job narrative were taken right from the job sketch, often with only minor revisions.
Senior teChniCian – 3/97 to Present. As Senior Technician for this manufacturer of CAT scanners, test printed circuit boards, end items, and systems,
troubleshooting down to component level. Rework failed equipment. Work closely
with clinical personnel and design engineers to identify problems and suggest solutions.
Identified and resolved a problem with one product that would have cost more than $200,000 to fix in the production stage. Interface with Quality Control and
frequently recommend changes in QC specifications. Recommendations typically
speed up production by 10–15%. Played a key role in reducing the time to produce the Y235 scanner prototype by four months.
Assist Engineering in setting up preclinical trials for prototype products. Review test procedures established by Test Engineering to ensure tests are understandable and workable. Review PC schematics, assembly drawings, and parts lists, and make corrections where necessary. Developed and currently maintain an electronic file of all test procedures, drawings, parts lists, and specifications, which has significantly improved access and use of the data, saving approximately 400 hours per year.
So, now that you understand how a job sketch works, read Examples 2 and 3.
In the following job sketch, the writer emphasizes some great successes in the tourism industry. Once he identified his successes in the job sketch, writing the job narrative was a cinch.
Managed and administered a statewide nonprofit association developing and promoting tourism in Idaho.
I conducted tourism seminars statewide for members of the private sector and performed lobbying duties in the state legislature on tourism issues.
I managed a staff of three, plus an intern, and reported to an elected board of directors from throughout the state.
I was the chief advocate for the private sector in tourism promotion and marketing.
It required strong people skills to work with the private sector, plus gain the
support of several state agencies and of the state legislature.
Played a key role in the increase in tourism revenue, which increased an average of 18% for each of the three years, versus 8–10% increases each of the five previous years. Many resort and tourism areas set records for revenue.
Our association received a $150,000 federal grant to further tourism, in recognition
of the high quality of our efforts the two previous years.
Project: Increased dues-paying membership approximately 20% each year because of our success in increasing tourism. Everyone wanted to be a part of what we were doing. Called or visited hundreds of hotels, resorts, and tourist spots to promote our efforts at increasing tourism. After two years of increased tourism throughout the region, owners of hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions saw the impact we were having and were (usually) happy to pay our very reasonable dues. These dues were critical for advertising and also to provide consulting assistance to key tourist attractions.
In his job narrative, he does a nice job of combining his duties with his results.
Idaho Hospitality & Visitors Association, Boise, ID 1998–2001
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR – Administered this statewide nonprofit association in promoting tourism to and within the State of Idaho. Lobbied the state legislature and had a solid impact in both protecting and enhancing the interests of the tourism industry. Established local groups to follow up with legislators on specific issues.
Obtained a key federal grant for the Regional Tourism Project in recognition of the overall effectiveness of the program. Played a key role in increasing state tourism revenue an average of 18% annually versus 8-10% annual increases in the previous five years.
Conducted highly regarded seminars for the private sector which enabled them to strengthen their marketing and promotional activities. Increased dues-paying membership approximately 20% per year and played a key role in increasing tourism dollars throughout the state. Supervised a staff of three.
DIRECTOR, INTRAMURAL SPORTS
After being a volunteer coach and referee for the intramural program, I interviewed for and got the Director of Intramural Sports position as a work-study job.
Planned the intramural program and increased co-ed sports from three to six. Created teams in each sport and provided them with coaches.
The prior year I heard rumblings from the women that the co-ed intramural sports
were not fun because the guys were too rough and too competitive in softball, flag
football, table tennis, and volleyball. At the start of the school year I wrote an article that was published in the school newspaper explaining co-ed sports were designed to have fun and provide opportunities to meet and have fun with those of the opposite sex. Students got similar information as they signed up for intramural teams.
I emailed women and men who had participated in the past and let them know the new policies and expectations. Referees were instructed to take guys aside if they were getting too rough. Swearing and making sexist comments were “outlawed.” I sent out email surveys which were returned by 80% of the women and 65% of the men. More than 90% of the men and women who responded indicated they would turn out for additional co-ed sports.
Reached out to those who had coached and refereed the year before and assured them that we would have a great year. Most of the coaches and referees returned. I brought in high school coaches and referees to provide clinics. The clinics were
very well attended. Because of the quality of volunteers and the clinics, there were
far fewer complaints about referees than in the past. Part of that was because participants were more interested in having fun and not worrying about a bad call.
Through a lot of publicity and talking with lots of past participants, the co-ed program started off completely different. There was a totally new attitude. Even the guys had more fun. After games the teams typically went out for pizza, something that rarely occurred before. Referees were invited to join them and got their food paid for.
Participation in all intramural programs increased from 24% to 55% for women and from 54% to 64% for men. Most of the increases occurred in the co-ed programs.
Recruited two assistants who were nearly as committed to intramural sports as I was. They were a huge asset.
Being on a tight budget I had to really negotiate with our equipment suppliers. I
had excellent relationships with the suppliers. I was even able to get some hand
me-down equipment from the varsity programs.
Director of intramural Sports – Planned, staffed, and organized the intramural sports program. Working with a tight budget, assessed equipment >needs, received bids from sporting goods suppliers, and purchased sports equipment. Supervised two assistants and recruited and supervised dozens of volunteers. Developed a new concept in women’s athletics and actively promoted the program. Participation by women grew from 24% in previous years to 55%. Participation by men increased from 54% to 64%. Developed successful refereeing clinics along with new sportsmanship rules that dramatically reduced fights and complaints regarding calls by referees.
While the data and information you produce for your job sketch are important and useful, the very process of writing the job sketch serves other valuable functions. It compels you to recall all the duties and functions of the job and allows you to choose the most important ones for your resume. It also enables you to relive the experiences, making them more vivid. What’s more, it helps you recall your accomplishments and results. In addition, the very act of remembering, sorting through, and writing down all of your duties, accomplishments, and experiences prepares you for interviews.
As you write your job sketches, it is important that you make the most out of each one of your accomplishments.
Save all of your job sketches and begin keeping track of what you’re doing on your current job. Look for ways to produce hard data on your successes and look for opportunities to improve things at work.
Every job ever created has built-in criteria for success. A sales rep sells, a manager manages, a teacher teaches, and so on. If you are not fired the first day of your new job and go on to maintain even minimum tenure, you probably have succeeded in doing what you are supposed to be doing.
There’s an old baseball axiom “We’re never as good as we think . . . nor as
bad.” Even the biggest employment disasters have elements of success. Projects
that have gone awry have had parts that were completed successfully.
To the resume reader, accomplishments separate real achievers from mere job holders. Duties alone cannot do this. Consider two people, each with ten years of experience and identical job titles. Applicant A has not had an original idea in three years. The drive and initiative that propelled A upward is gone.
Applicant B, however, has demonstrated significant accomplishments each
year and still exhibits great enthusiasm. Only their accomplishments will dis
tinguish over-the-hill applicant A from full-of-potential applicant B.
Accomplishments define you. They create strong impressions. This is an emotional—not an intellectual—exercise.
Stressing accomplishments in a resume is important for everyone, but it is
absolutely critical for the person who is changing careers, because those accom
plishments will prove your potential for success in the new career.
Employers make hiring decisions based on perceived potential. Experience is merely an indication, not a predictor, of this potential. It is certainly an advantage to be able to come in and be able to do the job from day one but that is not a guarantee of future success.
Accomplishments do not have to be big, knock-your-socks-off types of events. They are contributions you made to the organization. They demonstrate successes you have had in either performing the functions of your job, accomplishing projects, or going above and beyond the call of duty.
An employer who clearly sees how your past contributions stack up will sense your future value. Now, that’s potential!
Describe your accomplishments concisely and concretely so that they’ll
have impact. Employers seek people who can increase profits, decrease costs,
solve problems, or reduce the stress and pressure they face.
QuantiFYing anD QualiFYing
Statements of success in some jobs can easily be conveyed by such terms as increased, decreased, and their numerous derivatives (improved, expanded, reduced, etc.)
Specific information such as percentages and dollar figures make accomplishments more tangible and impressive. Compare these two statements:
“Implemented new personnel policies, which increased morale” and “Implemented new personnel policies that reduced absenteeism by 27% and reduced turnover by 24%.” Which is more effective?
Of course, each result must be reasonable, believable, and presented in good faith. And, as is the case with any claim, they must be able to be backed up. Backup does not mean you must have a former boss, coworker, or customer who will confirm each claim, although that can certainly help. Instead, what we mean by backup is that during an interview you are prepared to tell the story of how you obtained your results. You need not produce absolute proof, nor do employers expect it.
Numbers do not have to be gleaned verbatim from company records. If available, they are solid evidence of your claims. Quite often, though, this information is not available. In these cases, it is essential to be able to describe, if necessary, how you arrived at the final number.
Each claim you make about yourself in every section of the resume will be received solely due to the credibility you elicit in the reader. This is also true when you articulate these claims at the interview.
Calculating percentages or dollar figures when you have no verifying figures can require creative thinking and, sometimes, creative guessing.
The following example illustrates how this can be done.
Saving Money in Alaska
Roger wanted to leave Alaska, where he had repaired heavy construction machinery. He knew he was a top-level mechanic but could think of no hard evidence to prove it. In preparing his job sketch, he recalled that he had constantly designed new tools for difficult projects that reduced the time of certain repairs. One particular tool enabled him to install a $900 part on the first try. Previously, there was no way to ensure perfect alignment, with the required reliability to function under extreme pressure. On occasion, the new part would be damaged, requiring another replacement. As the part cost $900, Roger estimated he had saved the company several thousands of dollars in immediate replacement costs as well as in longer-term damage created by faulty alignment. Noting his success, his fellow mechanics copied the tool, similarly reducing damage, downtime, and replacement costs. Roger selected $20,000 in annual cost savings as a reasonable amount he felt he could comfortably defend at the interview. Not a single interviewer disputed the numbers.
Ideas for Identifying Accomplishments, Achievements, and Results
Terms such as accomplishments and results are often used interchangeably. For our purposes, we will define results as the actual benefit of a given accomplishment.
So, the first step toward the result is in identifying the accomplishments.
What exactly is an accomplishment? Simply put, an accomplishment is any experience in which you:
- Did something well
- Were complimented for it
- Got satisfaction from it
- Were proud of it.
If you responded positively to any or all of these descriptions, you have defined an accomplishment. Generate as many as you can. You will be surprised and amazed at how many you come up with. Of course, not all accomplishments will end up in the resume, but it’s nice to have a bunch from which to pick and choose.
- Did you create, reorganize, or establish any effective procedures or systems?
- Did you simplify or streamline a process that increased productivity?
- Did you oversee or participate in a special project that had a positive outcome?
- Have you done anything that saved money, or solved a problem?
- Did you make something work better?
- Are you a good supervisor or trainer whose people get promoted faster and farther than your fellow supervisors?
- Did you receive any awards or special recognition from a boss, the company, a customer, or an industry association?
For an extensive “trigger your brain” list of successes you may have, go to Appendix 1.
Accomplishments are not restricted to employment. Volunteer work, community service, and outside projects are fertile grounds for demonstrating value. You can determine later if these items are appropriate for your resume.
- Did you compete in marathons or other races?
- Raise money for charity?
- Coach a youth soccer team that learned team work and sportsmanship?
- Receive an achievement award from an organization you belong to?
Using Results to Create Impact
It’s great when you’ve got company printouts or documents to prove what you are claiming, but few people have access to those types of records. In such cases
it will be necessary to guesstimate. This is a very acceptable practice. When estimating, it is best to be a little on the conservative side so you can say in an interview that the results were probably greater than stated in the resume. You will never be expected to provide official records to an interviewer, so what you are actually selling is your credibility. Just be prepared to describe how you came up with your results and, as usual, do not misrepresent.
Accomplishments that cannot be translated into dollars or percentages can still have impact. Statements such as “Selected as employee of the month” or “Brought the product to market five months ahead of schedule” can have a powerful effect on employers.
In the following job narratives, notice how accomplishments are described very briefly, serving to generate interest on the part of the reader. Elaboration is saved for the interview.
In the Memory Academy example below, notice the quality of the contributions, despite the complete absence of numbers. You will quickly recognize that she is responsible, creative, hard-working, and an excellent supervisor and trainer. She is the type of person who is always looking for ways to improve programs and systems.
Memory Academy, Dallas, Texas 2002 to 2005
OFFICE MANAGER/EXECUTIVE INSTRUCTOR – Office manager of a 14-person office with direct responsibility for ten. Developed and wrote detailed manuals for each position and created a smooth functioning office. In 2003 redesigned the teaching techniques of the memory course. Instructors immediately experienced better results and received enthusiastic ratings from clients.
Accomplishments are stuffed to the gills with powerful information. One 15-word accomplishment can say more and have more impact than a hundred words in a job narrative. Look at the following two examples and notice the impact (italics added) of the accomplishments. Imagine what the impact would be without them.
Des Moines Trust & Savings, Des Moines, Iowa, 9/94 to Present
BRANCH OPERATIONS MANAGER – Managed operations at three branches and supervised 26 employees. Overcame serious morale problems by working closely with the branch staffs and providing better training and supervision. Within the branches absenteeism was reduced 42% and turnover 48%. Customer service and marketing of bank services were measurably improved. Based on customer surveys, the customer service rating improved from 74% good or excellent to 92%.
Central Mortgage, 5/96 to Present
DIVISION MANAGER, Missoula, Montana, 8/98 to Present. Opened the Missoula office and set up all bookkeeping and office systems. Within ten months became the number-one home mortgage lender in the Missoula area and obtained 31% of the mortgage market and 44% of all construction loans. During five years have averaged 48% profit on gross income, the highest in the company among 33 offices.
The following example vividly illustrates the need for accomplishments. The first version lacks both accomplishments and impact. The revision ultimately sold the person into a good position.
SALES REPRESENTATIVE – 2/02 to Present. Develop and service established accounts as well as new accounts. Set pricing structures after determining the market. Responsible for the district’s western Orange County territory. Sales have increased each year.
SALES REPRESENTATIVE – 2/02 to Present. In the first three years moved the territory from last in the district to first among ten territories. Aggressively went after new accounts and have significantly increased market share in the territory. By 2005 became the number one sales rep in total profits and have maintained that position. Profits have increased an average of 12% annually.
Is there any question which resume would more likely result in an interview?
Notice that the impression you get of the person is much stronger in the second version, yet it required just two more lines than the first. This powerful effect can be created by presenting how well you’ve done in jobs, rather than just what you did. Accomplishments speak for themselves and you rarely need to go into detail regarding all the things you did to get your results. Save the details for an interview.
Sometimes you will want to allude to what was done without providing details. The bank branch operations manager presented earlier, provides a perfect example. She said, “Overcame serious morale problems by working closely with the branch staffs and providing better training and supervision. Within the branches, absenteeism was reduced 42% and turnover 70%.” How she got her results is merely inferred. An employer who wants to know more of how she did it will have to interview her.
In the resume below, a bank controller’s job narrative does not do him justice. Because this was his most recent and most responsible position, more detail is required to show his potential. Although the second job narrative is longer, it is well written and concise. It does not contain any unnecessary words. Everything mentioned is designed to sell him and give an employer a full view of his experience.
Controller – Managed accounting department, seven-person staff; prepared financial statements and filed various reports with state and federal agencies; assisted and advised senior management concerning regulatory accounting and tax ramifications of decisions and policies; worked with savings and loan divisions on operational and systems design; served as primary liaison with computer service bureau in Los Angeles.
Controller – Managed a seven-person accounting department and significantly increased productivity by simplifying procedures, cross-training staff, and improving morale. Prepared financial statements and advised senior management on regulatory, accounting, and tax ramifications of new policies and programs under consideration. Heavily involved in the research and planning of an investment “swap” program that resulted in a $5.3 million tax refund. Successfully directed the bank’s response when the refund resulted in an IRS audit.
As financial division representative, worked closely with both the savings and loan divisions to increase interdivision cooperation related to new systems, operations, and customer service. Significantly improved communications with the bank’s service bureau and implemented modifications in the general ledger system that streamlined operations and saved more than $40,000 per year.
The accomplishments he included were his increase in productivity, finding a unique approach for justifying a large tax credit and then defending it before the IRS, increasing cooperation among divisions in the bank, improving relations with the computer service bureau, and saving money on computer services. These accomplishments cannot help but pique the interest of a targeted employer.
Results Sell People
Below are additional statements that effectively convey accomplishments. Read them and see how you might apply the ideas to your own situation. Quantified results are those that use numbers, such as percentages. Qualified results use only words to describe the result.
Developed a new production technique that increased productivity by 7%.
Through more effective recruiting techniques, reduced terminations company
wide by 30% and turnover by 23%.
Edited a newsletter for an architectural association, with readership increasing 28% in one year.
Organized a citizen task force that successfully wrote a statewide initiative, adopted with a 69% favorable vote.
As chairperson for fund-raising, developed a strategy that increased funds raised by 26% while reducing promotional costs.
Set a record of 46 days without a system failure.
Awarded Medal of Merit for contributions to the community.
Established a voluntary labor-management forum that significantly reduced tension between labor and management.
Developed a self-managed quality program that substantially reduced
The advertising tie-in with Toy Story was credited with building strong name recognition for our new toy line.
Received a letter of appreciation from the chairperson of the Ballard Community Council for bringing together 20 local businesses that provided seed money for a community center.
Played a key role on a task force that recommended over 20 ways to improve plant safety. Not only have injuries been significantly reduced, but morale has also improved as production personnel recognized that the company valued and respected them.
Which/Which Resulted In
Accomplishments and results are powerful. Everything you’ve done in your jobs has had a result. When the result is positive and significant, it belongs in the resume. Train yourself to look for results. You don’t need company documents to lend credence to your claims. Your own honest estimate is sufficient. If asked about it during an interview, just describe how you arrived at the figure and then go into more detail concerning how you accomplished it. The credibility you’ve built during the interview and your good-faith estimation will cause employers to more fully appreciate your value.
Here’s a surefire method for identifying accomplishments. As you list each duty or project, tack on the words which, or which resulted
in, and then follow it where it leads.
For example, “Wrote an office procedures manual” becomes, “Wrote an
office procedures manual, which decreased training time and billing errors.”
Now, give the results some results and see how it becomes:
“Wrote an office procedures manual, which decreased training time of new employees by 25% and reduced billing errors more than 30%.”
When numbers aren’t available, results still can be expressed. “Automated
the accounting system” becomes “Automated the accounting system, which
(dramatically/substantially/significantly) improved efficiency and accuracy.”
When you think you have completed your job sketches, take a deep breath and have another run at it. Check each entry for something you might have missed.
Where Are You in the Pecking Order?
If others in your office, group, or organization perform similar functions, is there a way to compare your performance to theirs? A salesperson, for example, might ask, “How am I doing in comparison to the other salespeople in my district in terms of revenue generation or new accounts obtained?” A machine operator might ask, “How am I doing compared to the other machine operators regarding production, quality, and the ability to produce complex parts?”
When describing an accomplishment, include concrete information about its effect. Don’t stop short. People often write in a way they think demonstrates a solid result, but they fail to show its true benefit. For example, one individual wrote, “Developed a new system to better schedule production and reduce late deliveries.” Through the use of the word “to” the person is merely implying that the goal was to improve scheduling and decrease late shipments. The statement does not tell us for sure that it actually worked! Look what happens when we add which: “Developed a system which improved production scheduling and nearly eliminated late deliveries.” There is now no doubt that the new system accomplished its goal and had a positive impact on the operation.
Don’t assume, just because a result does not come to mind immediately, that it does not exist. People are often amazed when they go over their job sketches a second time, or when a friend helps out, to find that there were many more results than were initially visible.
All projects that have successful conclusions contain one or more results you can use. Some duties, however, do not lend themselves to obvious results. So you did your job . . . big deal. But here’s the thing: every job has built-in success criteria. Consistently doing your job well is, in itself, an achievement. That’s why you are being paid. So what is your track record? Have you been dependable? Conscientious? Thorough? Accurate? Helpful to others? These are all real accomplishments.
Recall your duties from previous jobs and ask yourself whether there could be a result hiding in there that you might have missed. The more you find, the more empowering your resume will become—along with the subsequent interviews you will be invited to.
Identifying Results Within an Accomplishment
People often decide their mission is complete after defining a single result from an activity. Many times, however, others are actually lurking in the shadows, just waiting to be discovered. Each one is important. Even if not all of your results get into your resume, they can become highly valuable in letters, interviews, and in your general sense of marketability.
TO VerSuS THAT: DiD it or DiDn’t it?
In many of the examples in Remember the guy a few paragraphs this section, and in the sample back who “developed a system that resumes you’ll notice that one or improved production scheduling and more results are included in each nearly eliminated late deliveries?” His job narrative. This is necessary to is a case that proves that when you give you good examples. Don’t are presenting results, good inten-be discouraged if your results tions are not enough. don’t fully match the ones in these For instance: resumes. Simply spend the time to identify your personal accomplish
- “Developed new procedures to ments. If you’re not satisfied with your past results, look for ways to increase office productivity” is obtain results in your current job a noble effort. But to say “to” or in your next job. Also, take it as a only indicates intent, leaving the cue that you were working for the reader hanging, wondering if it wrong organization, or are work-worked out. ing in a job that does not fully uti
- “Developed new procedures that lize your strengths or which does increased office productivity” not motivate you. is a real accomplishment. It happened!