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I'm brushing up my CV/resume and trying to think of responsibilities and achievements from my past jobs and projects. It seems there aren't many, but probably there're some that I just don't identify as worth mentioning to a employer.

What kind of responsibilities and achievements does your job include and which of them do you list on your CV/resume?

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Did you ever write any code? <- achievement. Ever develop and/or fix a feature? <- responsibility. –  Crazy Eddie Feb 22 '11 at 22:25
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I feel your pain. Find an optimistic friend, preferable a programmer turned salesman, and recite what you have done to her/him. Then have your friend help you write out some exaggerated stuff. Read your CV over and over and over. Then interview at 7 crappy companies that you do not want to work at, and watch them call your BS ... or not. If that crap does not roll off your tongue naturally, set up yourself another 7 interviews. Finally, for the 15th interview apply to a company that you want to work with. You should be hired on the 20th interview. –  Job Feb 23 '11 at 0:44

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Did your code fix a problem? If you can show a time or money savings from what you created that is very helpful. Was your work less buggy than others, did you do something beyond the ordinary business application CRUD stuff? My own resume uses a lot of numeric data to support my achievements. Managers, especially MBA types, love things that are quantifiable. I talk about processes where I reduced the time from over 24 hours to less than an hour for instance (wonderful what replacing a cursor can do for performance as well as not doing unneeded processing). I mention how using my database application reduced the amount of time to respond to a maintenance issue (we had a very specific contractual time to respond or start losing money, my application brought the issues up more quickly so they could be assigned and worked on in a more timely manner.) Did the software sell to other becoming a profit center for your company. Did you fix a serious, difficult to find bug that was costing the company money?

I have an achievements secion on my resume and I pick and choose what to put on it depending on the nature of the job I'm applying for (after all I have over 30 years of achievements to pick from). I find it is more effective to have some specific achievements that relate to business needs (saved time, saved money, met deadlines stayed within budget, etc.) than general responsibites ("I wrote SSIS pacakages" just doesn't compare to "I improved performance of imports by 312%"). It also is far more effective than the utterly useless Objectives section which rarely gets you an interview but which has often been used to filter you out from an interview.

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I'm afraid I don't have much numeric data, but very helpful information. Thanks. –  Purple Tentacle Feb 23 '11 at 19:31
    
@Purple Tentacle, if you start thinking about it now, you can start recording those numbers for future resumes. That's what I do. When I performance tune, for instance, I have a baseline performance and a tuned performance and I store those numbers in a spreadsheet when something is significant (that's how I know I changed a process from over 24 hours to 40 minutes or from 44 minutes to 45 seconds). Same with other types of things. But you have to think about saving numbers as you go, so they are there for you when you update your resume. –  HLGEM Feb 23 '11 at 22:54
    
The numeric data idea is pretty good, never thought about it myself. Upvoted :) –  jlemos Feb 25 '12 at 23:29

Beyond general accomplishments and achievements that you might see (some companies offer recognition in general - eg., a "Dedicated" award to anyone who spends significant amount in the office outside business hours), standard ones for programming jobs include:

  • Names and description of projects completed, especially if publicly known and visible
  • Mentorship/leadership work
  • Competition participation and results, as relevant to the job you're applying to
  • Volunteer work, including major contributions to OSS projects, administration of public forums, or even reputation scores (with id links) on stack-exchange sites
  • Major contributions to well regarded, or popular, blogs
  • Notable side or personal projects
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Rather than focus on your history, you should focus on the job you are applying for.

What do they want from you? Can you show them that you fit the bill? This is what you must show in your CV.

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That's why you need to refer to what you've done in the past, i.e. history. Otherwise you're just pulling from thin air. You need both context and content. Not either or. –  aqua Feb 23 '11 at 0:18
    
@aqua, yes, precisely what I am suggesting. But only in relation to what the future employer wants to see. It's like coding: do you code just for the sake of it (it is a hobby), or do you code to answer a real business requirement (it is a profession)? Similarly, you write a CV to respond to a particular requirement (you are a professional), you don't write a CV to list everything you are capable of (you waste the reader's time). –  asoundmove Feb 23 '11 at 0:25
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Maybe I should have said that I'm also trying to create a career management document, a kind of career history to help me remember what I've done in previous jobs. Then when I'm creating a CV I can pick things that apply with the job. –  Purple Tentacle Feb 23 '11 at 19:05
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@Purple, now that is a different story altogether and a great idea. –  asoundmove Feb 23 '11 at 22:34

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