The Difference Between Job Duties and Achievements on Your Resume

06 Mar 2024 • 24 min • EN
24 min
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I want to start by being clear: This is a topic I’ve covered before. I’m covering it again because, based on the resumes that come to me for consults, ya’ll haven’t gotten the message yet.   In addition to touching on this topic in several episodes, I specifically covered job duties and achievements in episode #174. I’m going to expand on the content from that episode in this one.   What I see Let’s start with what I see on almost every resume that comes my way: either there isn’t an achievement in sight, or the few achievements that are there are mixed in with bulleted job duties – and they are poorly written.   This creates what we resume writers call “death by bullets.” A looooong laundry list of job duties and maybe a few achievements that don’t impress the reader and causes them to lose interest fast.   Job duties are important, because this is your opportunity to tell the reader what you did on a day-to-day basis. This is particularly helpful when you have had job duties outside what someone with that job title would normally have.   Job duties tell the employer WHAT you did. There is an assumption that everyone with XXX job title does approximately the same thing on a daily basis.   Achievements, on the other hand, tell an employer HOW WELL you did your job. This is your opportunity to show how much money you made or saved, how you improved efficiency, increased retention…whatever is appropriate for your job function.   Think of it this way. If you were a Nike athletic shoe, your job description might read: Made of rubber. Come in a variety of color combinations. Includes shoelaces and an insert. Can be spot-washed by hand. Can be worn for athletic or casual wear – by men and women.   Here are your achievement bullets:  Shaved 7.8 seconds off Sue Smith’s running performance in the mile.  Received prime placement in athletic shoe stores including…  Played key role in Jonathan Jones’ 15th-place finish in the Boston Marathon.  Generated $1.2 gazillion dollars top-line revenue.     Now, let’s break down the specifics of job descriptions and achievements.   Job descriptions This should be a 2-to-3-line paragraph of the daily job duties you performed – either most frequently, those that are most applicable to the specific position you are applying for, or those not normally performed by someone with your job function (but only if you want to continue to perform those duties).     There’s no room for fluffy words or extra verbiage in this paragraph. Stick with the most important, most relevant, and/or most differentiating tasks.   Here’s an example: Aligned marketing plans and GTM tactics to drive audience awareness and growth for $12M international entertainment product. Drove branding, design, website, video production, customer journey, social media, billboards, subway ads, taxi tops, paid ads, customer experience improvements, celebrity and influencer partnerships, and content creation.   Here’s another example: Drove all management and operational components including reporting functions, scheduling, hiring, onboarding, training, policies / procedures, compliance, and strategic planning. Collaborated with marketing director to promote and grow all offices. Managed P&L including net profitability, net revenue per visit, and net cost per visit.   Note that these are paragraphs – not bullets. Bullets should be reserved for achievements ONLY.     Achievements Your achievements are what market you on your resume. When you mix your job duties with your achievements, you dilute the effectiveness of your achievements.   Ideally, you will have progressively more achievements with more recent jobs. At most, 5 achievements per role.   What makes an achievement impactful? -Is specific -Starts with an action verb (parallel structure) -Leads with results -Leaves the reader wanting more (2 lines max)     Example #1:   Instead of   Grew customer base   This high-impact achievement bullet:  Catapulted customer base 400% and revenue 700% by launching a comprehensive social media campaign.     Example #2:   Instead of   Managed new-hire in-processing   This high-impact achievement bullet:  Processed 140 new employees in just 30 days including all paperwork, orientation, security clearances, and computer access.     Example #3:   Instead of   Managed IT installation project   This high-impact achievement bullet:  Spearheaded 1200-unit IT installation project including beta testing, identifying and training superusers, and troubleshooting.   How do you know what to include as an achievement? Here are some guidelines:   -Choose achievements that, in combination, present you as well-rounded and competent for the role you are applying for.   -Focus on achievements that demonstrate the skills you want to use moving forward. If, for example, you’re really good at managing budgets but hate them, and they aren’t an essential part of the job you’re applying for, don’t focus an achievement on your budgeting magic.   Two more things: With some clients, I will separate out a 1-to-2- line statement about the scope of their work. Doing this makes it easy for the reader to see things such as size of budgets managed, number of direct reports, reporting structure, size of sales territory, etc.   Here’s an example:    Directly supervised 5; total team of 14 | Hired, developed, and managed marketers, vendors, and agencies | $3.8M Marketing budget   Finally, I am increasingly beginning each of my clients’ bullets with an introductory phrase. This serves two purposes: It allows the reader to quickly scan the resume and determine the “buckets” of achievements this candidate has had, and it further packs the resume with keywords that will increase its score in the ATS.   I determine what phrases to use based on two things: The content of the achievement (what is it really about) and the keywords I find in the job descriptions the client gives me.   Examples:  Stakeholder Advocacy & Education: Developed and managed Regional Advocate Program, which delivered grassroots, legislative, political, and investor development support and resources to Florida Chamber, local chambers of commerce, legislators, candidates, and business advocacy partners across 6 regions of Florida.  Efficiency Enhancements: Achieved annual cost reduction of 30%, enhanced financial reporting processes, and increased productivity through strategic technology implementations including dashboarding and cloud solutions.  Latinx Community Leadership: Recognized with Hispanic Heritage Foundation Award — for courage and commitment to elevating Latinx culture in all its expressions.     Are you in the wrong job that chips away at you every day? The document and coaching programs offered by Exclusive Career Coaching will help you find a job that uses your zone of genius, recognizes your value, and pays you what you’re worth.   If you’re ready to take your job search to the next level by working with a highly experienced professional with a track record of client success, schedule a complimentary consult to learn more:                

From "The Exclusive Career Coach"

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