Resume: Responsibilities vs 'How Well Did You Do Them'

I have several questions about responsibilities versus accomplishments.

Q1: Like pretty much everyone who's trying to grow themselves as a contributor, I started with a set of responsibilities that have grown as I've proven myself and as I've learned more. I don't have position changes (well, I have <title> II, <title> III, <title> IV - but even in that, the responsibilities grew regardless of title, and in one case I didn't find out I'd been given the title for two years, long story). So, in one sense, I feel like the growth of responsibilities is in some measure a reflection of how well I did the other responsibilities. Do I need to adjust my thinking?

Q2: I almost never have been told how I'm doing against *any* metrics, at any job, and almost never had any kind of numbers that were useful. I'm trying to come up with proxies that I *can* validly use - that is, in those cases where I don't have numbers, but do have *some* information, I'm trying to incorporate that information into a form that a hiring manager can use in some fashion. I wrote, in years long past, things like 'improved communication between <groups> to streamline handling of <type of problem>'. I have no numbers; I just know that when <type of problem> first happened, no communication flowed and so it took hours or days longer to figure out what had gone wrong; between relationships I built and processes I worked out within those relationships, it was much easier to deal with it and everyone who needed to know found out tons faster. What do I do with this?

Q3: In one job, I was level 2 technical support for enterprise management software - the kind of stuff where millions of dollars were potentially going down the drain when it was down at some sites, and at others, physical safety could be at risk and no one would know it. I ended up being the resource a lot of my coworkers went to for help when they couldn't solve problems. That wasn't my responsibility per se - there were others who were technically more senior - it's just the practical effect of being good.  (Relationships mattered, too... It's not just that I was good but that I had good relationships with my coworkers.) Again, can I do something with this?

Q4: Same job: there were some customers who refused to deal with *anyone* but me, including some of the most difficult-to-work-with customers. This doesn't feel like an accomplishment to me; it DOES feel like a reflection of how well I did my job.

I've listened to all the resume casts, bought the resume workbook, etc. My resume is stronger as a result, but I really feel like I don't understand how to handle those things where there's no numbers available to me at ALL. And since that's the case for most of what I did - I don't have numbers for pretty much anything - I feel like my accomplishments in general are weak, even when I know I've done a good job.

You have accomplishments... and you can get numbers

Being the "go-to" person for colleagues and customers are achievements.  They're not as awesome as numbers, but I'd take them.  If I saw something like "Became a go-to person for other support staff by having extensive knowledge of $PRODUCT" I'd be suitably impressed.  Something similar for external customers wouldn't be hard to formulate.

For Q2, you could make an estimate of how long it took to get things done before and after your intervention, and put that in your bullet.  Make your estimate reasonable and defensible, but you can put numbers on it, so you should do so.

You can collect your own metrics, though; you don't have to rely on the organisation to supply them to you.  Set a metric you think is important, and keep your own count of how often it happens (or how long it takes to do, or whatever).  It might be "number of compliments from customers"; keep a spreadsheet of every time it happens, then you can aggregate and graph that data, and do all sorts of cool stuff with it.  It helps during performance reviews ("hey boss, did you know I got an average of 2.1 compliments per week from customers over the past 12 months?  Look!  I've got graphs!"), and it'll be a handy thing to include in your resume.


Seperate Roles and Titles

My top recommendation that was given to me regarding some of the same problems you face is that you need to draw a line between the role and the title.

I'll use myself as an example.

When I started working at the company I am with, I started as an Application Developer 2.  I soon moved to an IT Specialist 2.  Then I moved to an IT Specialist 4 (Temporary Work Assignment).  Then to IT Specialist 2 (you had to return to your previous title before being promoted if a promotion was merited).  Then to IT Specialist 4.  In that time I worked for 3 managers, and I had the following roles Web Application Developer, Lead Web Application Developer, Integration Engineer, Portal Integration Engineer, Lead Portal Integration Engineer, Project Architect, and Program Architect.  Additionally I worked on 6 major programs consisiting of multiple project tracks, and many smaller projects.

With all that said, I have not chosen to talk about titles, but on the role I had, and even then I have compressed the roles to only focus on the roles with different responsibilities.  So my resume has Lead Web Application Developer, Lead Portal Integration Engineer, and Program Architect as each of these are different and distinct roles that had different responsibilities associated with them.  The Lead and Non-Lead roles are not discussed as.  The Project vs. Program distinction is not called out as the only difference is that a program consists on more than one project.  

So I would go this way:  Role > Responsibility > Accomplishments.  I wouldn't put title in there at all.  

As for Q2 and Q3 I would agree with Matt.

Ted Tschopp
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