A Job Sketch Resume Best Shows Your Value
Offer Evidence of Past Success to Set Yourself Apart
By Gary Kanter

You’ve spent several months perusing the want ads and talking with friends and associates about potential career options. Now you’ve decided it’s time to get serious about your job hunt. You dig out your most recent resume which, sadly, isn’t recent at all. Panic sets in. Your mind goes blank. How do you create a compelling picture of yourself that shows you’re a candidate worth considering?

Let’s start with the basics.

An effective resume is not a work history, a summary of jobs and what you’ve done in you’re your life. Rather, it’s a well-crafted presentation that is designed to demonstrate your value.

Demonstrate Value!

Everything you include must be chosen to enhance this concept of value. You must exceed the boundaries of formal job descriptions because value transcends minimum qualifications, formal education, and generic experience. It’s a statement that you have succeeded in the past and will again in the future.

Most hiring managers review resumes not to find what a candidate has done, but how well he or she did,” says Beau Hamilton, president of Hamilton Co., a Bellevue, WA., management consulting firm.  “They’re interested in the obstacles you had to overcome in getting the job done,” he says. “Expressing that kind of critical information requires detailed thought and dedicated work.”

Indeed, preparing an effective resume is time consuming and requires a thorough review of your work history. Begin by recalling each of your major jobs and write job sketches—not job descriptions – of each. Write down everything you did on the job even if it wasn’t included in the formal job description. Relive the emotion of each assignment. How did you feel driving to and arriving at work? How did you start the day? What did you do daily? Periodically? Were there any special projects?

Remember that duties are only half the picture. Don’t forget that the value you provided is the key impression you want to convey. As you write, analyze how well you accomplished each task or assignment. What was your organization (department, region. territory. etc.) like when you started? What did you do to improve it? What was it like when you left?

To each accomplishment, add the phrase. “which resulted in________.”  Every job has built-in success criteria.  What was yours?  Review the following entries for clues.

Most hiring managers review resumes not to find out what a candidate has done, but how well he or she did. What was the benefit or result?

Make sure to actually describe the benefit of your actions. Compare the difference between the following samples:

  • Implemented new employee training program.
  • Implemented new employee training program which increased productivity 25%.
  • Streamlined filing system.
  • Streamlined filing system which reduced labor hours 15%.

Even the results can have results:

  • Reduced payroll hours 10%.
  • Reduced payroll hours 10% while increasing production and quality.

When numbers aren’t available, results still can be expressed:

  • Automated the accounting system.
  • Automated the accounting system which dramatically improved efficiency and accuracy.

Don’t be afraid to take credit for group accomplishments. Most committees were steered by one or two members.  If you directed, managed. led or guided a group or task force to an achievement, take the credit.

Positive customer and client perceptions are excellent accomplishments. Cite any comments or letters of appreciation for providing quality service. Quote or paraphrase performance reviews and appraisals. even unofficial words of praise. On a resume, these can be stated as:

  • Consistently received letters of commendation from grateful customers.
  • Consistently received outstanding performance reviews in all areas.
  • Frequently commended by supervisor for dependability, accuracy and seeing all projects through to completion.

Peers and co-workers also are valid sources of praise.

  • Regarded by co-workers as key support person during pressure assignments or emergencies.
  • Considered the office resource person by entire staff.

Awards and honors also demonstrate value and achievement. Awards can be certificates, cash, vacations, plaques or a special parking space. Honors include being selected employee of the week, month, quarter or year. or inclusion in select groups such as the “President’s Club” or “Million Dollar (Sales) Club.”

Sometimes a company will recognize high performers simply by posting a list on a bulletin board. Be sure to list these: Recognition is recognition.

As you complete your review, you may be surprised at how much you’ve accomplished. This sense of pride will help you compile your resume and bolster your search.

“When we recall experiences we relive them and the emotions come back. Job sketches add that personal sense to the resume process. 

Select the Most Representative Accomplishments

The next step is to select and list appropriate accomplishments for your resume. Have an objective in mind when you begin writing. This is usually stated at the top of the resume, but isn’t essential. Your objective could be as succinct as “Sales”, “Management” or “Engineer,” but should be broad enough to fit several job options. If you’re considering unrelated options, you may need to prepare two or more resumes.

Document aspects of your jobs which clearly convey your prior responsibilities. Most employers are more concerned with what you’ve done recently, so emphasize recent duties and accomplishments related to your objective. If you’re a retail store manager looking for a purchasing position, indicate your current managerial responsibilities, but devote extra space to responsibilities and results related to purchasing (i.e., sourcing, negotiating, evaluating products. etc.).

If you’re a technician seeking to enter management, stress your supervisory or leadership experience.

Provide examples of when you solved problems, coordinated team efforts, or demonstrated leadership.

After you’ve prepared detailed sketches of your most recent, and presumably, most important jobs, treat the less recent assignments as supporting evidence. If your job activities become redundant or less relevant to your objective, create a prior employment section as follows:

Prior Employment

BRANCH MANAGER, Gennco Insurance, Burley. Utah (1973-77)

SALES AGENT, United Western Insurance Company. Ogden. Utah (1969-73)

The following variation of this section is useful if accomplishments you’ve held multiple positions with a single employer and provided full job sketches of recent positions. It shows impressive upward movement without unnecessary detail.

Previous Experience Within Company



TECHNICIAN (1976-78)

These sections allow you to document your employment without stealing valuable space from more important recent jobs.

Though preparing job sketches can be time consuming and difficult, the result is an effective summary of your accomplishments. This ultimately is what employers want to see and can set you apart from other candidates. With it, you can pursue your job hunt with the confidence that you’ve been successful and have the resume to prove it.

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