Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Be an Impact Player

Most resumes I read have a fairly familiar pattern. For each job they list their job title, include a paragraph describing the company and their role and list their responsibilities. Some will also include their accomplishments. This isn't a bad format but it doesn't get at what I think is something much more important - the impact you had on the company.

Every job comes with a list of responsibilities. Responsibilities describe what you are accountable for accomplishing in your job. If you're a software developer, for example, your responsibilities might include documenting end user requirements, creating system design specifications, writing code, testing, etc. If you're a good software developer you become good at translating end user requirements into specific requirements, you write good system design specifications, and write good, efficient code. These are all very important and valuable to your company. After all, that's what you were hired to do.


Your brand, though, should say more about you than "I have the following skills", or "I do a good job at performing my responsibilities which I've listed below". What is much more powerful (and interesting) to someone reading your resume is to talk about the positive impact you had on your group, department or company. In other words, think about what your net effect has been. Continuing with the software developer example, did you dramatically improve the process to make it more efficient, did you significantly improve the quality of applications or products developed, did your user requirements documentation and design specifications significantly improve the responsiveness to customer needs? Present you case as a before and after scenario and use as much hard, quantitative evidence as you can to build your case.


When you talk about the impact you had it makes your pitch more compelling and makes the reader visualize what it would be like if you worked for their company. It elevates you above other candidates by making the hiring manager feel like they would get more value for the money than just a good employee. You position yourself as great rather than just good. It also shows that you see yourself as an integral part of the organization. You're a team player but you also bring initiative and leadership with you.


I also think it's healthy for career growth and personal satisfaction to evaluate yourself as a neutral third party would in terms of how you have made your organization better off than when you came. It feels good to believe you have had a real impact.


This discussion is presented in collaboration with Rob Main, co-founder of Apojigo. Apojigo is your own personalized Web space for presenting your professional Profile and Portfolio.

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