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Dear Career Tips: Emphasize Results

From Career Tips, 2018 Volume 5, May 2018

My fiancé is interested in making a career change. I've enclosed his résumé.

Dear Changing Directions:

One thing you will want to do to position yourself to impress potential hiring managers is to give some careful thought to the sorts of results you have produced in the past, and those you could potentially produce for your target employers. For example, your résumé summary of qualifications states that you are:

"Experienced in conducting on-site interviews, analyzing qualitative data, selecting case studies, and developing research designs that adhere to sound ethical principles that protect human subjects."

Those are things that you do, but what will those mean to an employer?

I don't hire people because of their experience, I hire them because of the demonstrated results they will produce:


  • What was able to be accomplished (or will be able to be accomplished in the future) because of your on-site interviews?
  • What results did your analysis of qualitative data produce?
  • How did the way you selected case studies move the broader mission forward?
  • Were your research designs more cost-effective, able to be completed more quickly, or more effective at demonstrating the hypothesis?

    The fact that your designs adhere to sound ethical principles is nice, but is probably not what is the most important point to most hiring managers. They want to know what you ultimately achieved. Then the fact that you achieved those results while also adhering to sound ethical principles becomes a bonus.

    Similarly, your job-related bullet points are interesting, but they are also about things that you did, rather than results you achieved. Here are examples:

    - Wrote and edited several reports that summarized data from surveys conducted by the Department of Defense …
    - Edited dozens of survey questionnaires for Department of Defense employees, soldiers in the active duty military, and members of the National Guard & Reserves.
    - Analyzed data on stress experienced by active duty soldiers ...

    If you struggle with expressing the actual results of the work you did, at least give some evidence that shows you were particularly good at producing the work. This could be through examples of some of these:

  • Meeting tight deadlines.
  • Producing particularly insightful reports and analyses.
  • Successfully juggling multiple complex projects.
  • Setting up new processes that allow the surveys, analyses, etc. to be produced more efficiently.

    Good luck with your search!

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    (C) 2018 John West Hadley, All Rights Reserved
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