how can I write a resume when my jobs don’t have measurable results?
A reader writes:
You often advise that when writing a resume, you should list the things you achieved at each previous job, rather than just listing duties. I can see why this would be more interesting to a hiring manager, but what if your job isn’t really about achieving things? I’m a property/facilities manager, so I don’t really work on projects as such — my job is much more about maintenance and keeping things ticking. It largely involves routine stuff, like mandated fire safety and water safety checks, supervising the cleaning staff, arranging yearly or six-monthly service visits, etc. Of course not everything is routine, but the unscheduled stuff is just responding to problems of varying degrees that arise within a large building (be that handling something small like changing a light bulb, or something more long term like changing over one of our maintenance contracts and dealing with all the issues that arise from that).
Basically, I can’t really say that I’ve “achieved” many things, because it’s not like my job brings in money to the company, or attracts new clients (we did sign on a new tenant to occupy the whole building a few years ago, but they have a long-term lease so it’s not like this is something that comes up a lot), or that I can say I successfully completed so-and-so project. I could say something like, “oversaw installation of X system” as an example more specific one-off, but that’s really just doing my job.
Is there a way to describe your job more effectively or impressively when it’s less about measurable results and more about maintaining things?
The reason to focus your resume on accomplishments rather than duties isn’t because it’s more interesting to a manager. It’s because it conveys to a manager that you’re a person with a track record of achievement and getting things done, which is the type of person every manager wants to hire. It’s how you stand out in a sea of candidates with job histories similar to yours.
Think of it this way: someone could have your exact same job and do it really poorly, right? You don’t want to have the same bullet points on your resume that they would. For example, just listing that you were in charge of responding to service requests doesn’t reveal anything about whether you were highly responsive and got things taken care of quickly and effectively, or whether you were painfully slow, let things fall through the cracks, and were basically hated by tenants. So you need to talk about it in terms of what you achieved — like “promptly responded to large volume of service requests, ensuring all were swiftly resolved and earning regular kudos from residents.” If you’re hiring, who do you want to talk to — that person or guy who just writes that he “responded to service requests”?
Almost everything you do in any job can be done well or it can be done poorly. When writing a resume, you want to paint a picture that shows you did it well. What made you good at it? How were your results different than the results you would have gotten if you’d just phoned it in? That’s what you need to convey.
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