Daily Writing Tips has a pretty good series of suggestions on resume writing. Let’s focus on item 13, “Achievements instead of responsibilities.”
Many people when listing what their roles were at previous places of employment will simply list what their job titles and maybe a brief sentence of their responsibilities. For example:
Programmer/Analyst with responsibility for maintaining payroll system.
However it is useful for a potential employer to see what exactly a candidate did at the previous employer. This allows the applicant to relate what they actually did. For example:
Programmer/Analyst: Ensured smooth running of payroll system during biweekly payment process.
Successfully executed enhancement to system that enabled direct deposit of payment to employee’s bank accounts.
Successfully executed enhancement to system that included automatic deduction for employee medical savings accounts.
And so on.
In the first case, when a potential employer is just looking at a series of responsibilities he or she has no idea what the applicant actually did, something that would make it easier to judge whether the job applicant is worthy of going to the interview step. In the second case the person responsible for hiring as an idea of what the applicant did for the previous company, which also give him or her an idea of what the job applicant’s experience level and skill sets are.
Incidentally, the applicant should best be prepared to expand on the achievements portion of the resume during the interview process. By listing achievements, the applicant is giving the interviewer some ideas for questions that go beyond the old, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” and “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
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