A majority of resumes and LinkedIn profiles look like job descriptions. Right?
Yes, a majority of resumes do look like job descriptions. Why? Well, either people don’t know how to sell themselves or people find the idea of turning duties into accomplishment a tough concept to grasp.
But why do you have to be fussy about how your resume looks like? The answer is a no-brainer – you need to stand out. You will stand out if you clearly communicate how valuable you are; your accomplishments (aside from your skills or education and training) will do most of the job.
Yes, turning a list of duties into a list of accomplishments could be quite daunting. At first, yes, it is not easy. But once you get it, you will have a smooth sailing in your resume-writing future.
At this juncture, I suggest you grab your resume, or open your LinkedIn profile and read on as we walk you through the process of turning your duties into bullet points that will sing your praises.
1. Know the difference between a duty and an accomplishment.
The difference between a duty and an accomplishment is simple.
Duty: What did you do?
Accomplishment: How well you did you do it?
Okay. Got it?
Hiring managers understand what duties are associated with certain job titles. As such, re-enumerating those duties in your resume will only use up valuable space. And, it will make your resume look like a job description. It makes perfect sense, therefore, to veer away from the what-I-did narrative and start telling how well you did your job – creating a picture of your abilities; one that will sell yourself.
2. Know what set you apart.
Before you start rewriting your resume or your LinkedIn, you should make a list of all the things that define you from the rest. To help you do that, ask yourself the following questions as you go through each and every position on your resume.
- What did I do that was above and beyond my normal job duties?
- How did I stand out among other employees?
- Was I ever recognized by a supervisor for a job well done? When and why?
- Did I win any awards or accolades?
- What new processes did I implement to improve things?
- What problems did I solve?
- Did I ever consistently meet or exceed goals or quotas?
- Did I save the company money?
- What made me really great at my job?
Greek philosopher Aristotle taught the three pillars of persuasion: ethos, pathos, and logos. Ethos is an appeal to ethics, and it is a means of convincing someone of the character or credibility of the persuader. Pathos is an appeal to emotion and is a way of convincing an audience of an argument by creating an emotional response. Logos is an appeal to logic and is a way of persuading an audience by reason.
Aside from logical correctness, quantitative evidence is also a cornerstone of logos. Show your accomplishments in numbers, not just words. Only a few applicant do this, so if you do this you will certainly stand out. Quantify your accomplishments by answering the question “how much” whenever appropriate. Remember, by quantifying your impact, you’re doing exactly that. You’re providing evidence to underscore the significance of your accomplishments.
Weak: Managed a budget to plan a large-scale event for students.
Strong: Managed 50,000 peso budget to plan a large-scale event for 3,000 students.
Weak: Wrote articles on B2B marketing and information technology.
Strong: Wrote 12 articles on B2B marketing and information technology, generating 230,000 pageviews, 7,003 likes, and 11,723 tweets
You cannot always quantify your achievements, but when you can, you can still go a little further by qualifying it as well. Quantifying something adds breadth to it; qualifying something, however, adds depth and clarity to things numbers cannot explain.
Numbers cannot readily spell out the benefits your previous boss or company got from your skillset. Words can. Here’s an example:
Quantified: “Created 20 client reports each month.”
Quantified and qualified: “Created and prepared 20 weekly and monthly status reports to ensure clients consistently received timely and complete information.”
Take Home Message
It’s important to remember that hiring managers already understand the duties of the job. It will not help you if your resume only states the obvious as hiring managers receive many resumes in a day. Recruiters and hiring managers want to know how you are better than the next or the previous candidate they’ve reviewed – that’s the difference between a resume that lists duties and one that demonstrates accomplishments on the job.
Again, remember that success and accomplishments are best demonstrated when performance is measured – whether quantified, qualified, or both.
Read: 6 Secrets to Writing the Best Resume (According to Psychology)