One of the most useful resume tips for IT job applicants is to follow this simple advice: Your goal in crafting that killer résumé is to produce a document that demonstrates that what you have is what employers want. What you need to have is the right combination of qualifications, experience and accomplishments. The first two, qualifications and experience, have to be a good match for the job opening, and they are what can get your résumé in the reviewer’s stack.
Unfortunately, that “stack” is chocked full of IT candidates who made the cut with enough heft and depth where the reviewer has to begin looking for tiebreakers. That’s where the final element, accomplishments, comes into the true art of writing a résumé. Accomplishments are often overlooked — or at least not emphasized enough — in favor of weighting the résumé towards education, special qualifications and lofty job descriptions of previous employment with industry leaders.
Of course, qualifications and experience are important, but applicants often waste space and the reviewer’s time on excessive verbiage that amounts to just job responsibilities and task descriptions. What your résumé should focus on are your accomplishments.
Your past job tasks and responsibilities do little to differentiate you from other candidates. What makes you unique and memorable is what you accomplished and the value you added to your organization. The best approach is to not go past three to six lines when discussing your job tasks. Save the valuable résumé space for accomplishment-focused statements.
How to maximize your past accomplishments
At this point you may be thinking, I really just did my job and nothing out of the ordinary. Well, think again, because if you get that open IT position it will be because the interviewer believes you can actually create positive outcomes by virtue of your demonstrated quality job performance.
In composing accomplishment-focused statements, consider the following:
- What makes you so especially good at what you do?
- What would have happened if you didn’t do your work as diligently as you did?
- What problems did you solve or avoid because you did your job well?
- What unique value would you bring to the new job?
- What are your personal and professional qualities that have made you a success so far?
Jot down the answers to the foregoing questions, and you have begun the first step in focusing on accomplishments. Be as specific as possible, and pretty soon you’ll have the foundation of an accomplishment-focused résumé.
How to leverage your specific accomplishments
So what employers want to read about on your résumé are your accomplishments, rather than a discussion of job tasks. Obviously, past success is the best predictor of future performance, and you really need to work on accomplishment statements that clearly show:
- How you have helped (or can help) their organzation to make and save money and time and grow the business.
- How your performance impacted the “before and after” picture in your work setting through some improved process or strategy you implemented or in which you were a key supporter or leader.
- How you met or exceeded quotas or expectations.
- How you met or consistently beat project or work deadlines.
The key, then, is to focus on quantifiable accomplishments and include the specifics of numbers, dollar figures, percentages. Those accomplishments all point to the value you add as an employee, as compared to similarly experienced and qualified folks who also want that job.
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