If you’re like many people, your resume probably lists places you worked, titles you held, and a bullet point list of job duties you performed. Notice how you feel when you think “job duties.” Unless your duties involve combating evil or saving innocent lives, that phrase sucks the life right out of that first sentence, doesn’t it? The important question is would a list of your job duties paint a revealing picture of the dynamic, self-motivated superhero that you are, or would it portray your mild-mannered alter-ego, who obediently does what you are told, and nothing beyond that?
In a creative industry, a hiring manager wants to look at your resume and feel excited about the fresh perspective and energy you might bring to their organization. He or she wants to see accomplishments! Therefore, de-emphasize the list of perfunctory job duties and focus on listing how you benefited the organization while you were in each position. An accomplishment could be something like “Developed an art production pipeline that sped up the rate at which assets got delivered to the design team, thereby reducing the time it took to get each level in the game ready for final beta testing.” Or it might be something like, “Organized daily collaboration meetings with other programmers which yielded solutions to three show-stopping bugs in one week.”
Accomplishments can also be described in the form of recognition from your manager, colleagues, or customers, like being singled out for extra responsibility or being awarded a promotion based on performance. The most attractive accomplishments, though, are those that can be tied to business value, i.e., you either made or saved the company money. In the above examples, it may not be possible to measure exactly how the streamlining of production or fixing of bugs translated to profits. However, if the team was able to produce more with less effort or time needed, or if progress on the game was unblocked sooner rather than later, both imply an improvement in the bottom line.
What if you didn’t spearhead any big, visible improvements in the bottom line? Even if you did little things to smooth the way for your boss or colleagues, those can be phrased as accomplishments, too. In The Damn Good Resume Guide, author Yana Parker recommends the “P.A.R.” approach, in which you phrase your activities in terms of Problems, Actions, and Results. In other words, think of a problem your team experienced, what action you took to resolve it, and what the results were.
Let’s say you worked as an office manager who ordered food for the team when they worked overtime, and made sure everyone had working computers. Using the P.A.R. phrasing, you could say you “assisted a team that was running behind schedule by providing overtime food and responding to equipment needs, resulting in more hands-on-keyboard time and fewer interruptions for the developers.” Voila! You’re an indispensable solver of problems, an enemy of roadblocks, a superhero!
The job search is no time be masquerading as Clark Kent! Haul out that resume and transform those job duties into accomplishments!