Zero in On Your Skills

Susan Hall

Last week I wrote that employers are looking for accomplishments on your resume, not merely that you held a job. This CareerLab post describes the difference between responsibilities and accomplishments this way:

 

Slide Show

Salaries Improving for IT Jobs in 2011

Salary projections for the top IT markets in 2011.

Your duties and responsibilities refer to the general scope of your job, such as "sales" or "selling." Accomplishment statements give specific examples of tasks you finished. ... Being an excellent manager isn't an accomplishment. It's a skill or competency. But leading a task force that develops a new money-making product in less than two months is an accomplishment.

Your responsibilities are the tasks you are assigned to do; accomplishments are the outcome of your efforts. It can be a subtle distinction, but an important one.

 

The San Francisco Chronicle points out another problem: Describing traits as skills. It says:

Saying "I love working with people" when asked a skills-based question is one example of answering a skills question with a trait. You hope the interviewer will focus on your positive nature, but responses such as this often give the impression you're unsure what you can offer and misses the opportunity to build a connection between your skills and the employer's needs.

The Chronicle points out that words such as these are traits:

 

  • energetic
  • dependable
  • determined
  • focused
  • intuitive
  • loyal

 

While those are admirable and might be needed in the employer's workplace, they might not tell the employer that you're a good fit for the actual work to be done. Instead, the article says, focus on action verbs. Words such as these address actual tasks:

 

  • training
  • developing
  • implementing
  • presenting
  • organizing
  • planning

And as I've written before, the resume is not about you. It and the interview are all about how you can help solve the employer's problems. Focus on how your skills address the employer's issues.



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