23

Throughout my career I've worked in teams where everybody does everything and nobody really has the ability to claim ownership of a specific feature or successful implementation.

As I'm updating my resume, I find it hard to find something to claim as my primary responsibility or contribution. The things that I did contribute most significantly to would be so specific that it wouldn't be relevant to anybody who wasn't part of the organization or used the product.

Should I forego trying to list specific roles and responsibilities on my resume or is there an effective way to present this collaborative work?

  • Not really an answer but in the past I have forgone specifics and used user impact as the basis that I list involvement. "Provided X" you know? – Rig May 14 '12 at 18:11
  • Hm should we keep this software industry specific (and tag it as such) or not? Current answers sort of lean that way since it was from programmers. – Rarity May 14 '12 at 18:53
  • 1
    @Rarity The "jack of all trades" or "collaborative knowledge worker" exists in more than just the software industry (just not as frequently) so let's keep it as-is. – jcmeloni May 14 '12 at 18:56
  • @jcmeloni agreed, the question doesn't call for anything IT specific – Rarity May 14 '12 at 19:00
16

You can take partial credit for the team's achievements:

  • Worked as an equal member of a five person team to reduce costs in an online purchasing system. Once fielded, the improved system save the client $12.8 million in the first six months of operation.

  • Helped to refactor a legacy system. Team efforts eliminated 65% of existing code, with an overall code base reduction of about 50% and a 300% performance improvement.

As well, you should be able to point to some individual accomplishments. What do you talk about at your annual or semi-annual performance reviews? If you keep a daily journal of your work, mine that for accomplishments. If not, see what you can find to build a case in your version control system, bug tracking system, or other artifacts.

11

The audience of a resume doesn't care about roles or responsibilities; having a role or responsibility doesn't mean you didn't fail miserably at them. It just means that was some formal title or description you had.

What hiring managers and resume readers look for are specific accomplishments.

Wording them as What you did, and Why you did it and the Result it had is much more powerful than.

"I was a developer and was responsible for writing bug free code." That pretty much describes the minimum implied expectation and that will get you looked over quicker than anything.

You need statements like:

Leadership: Provided technical direction, mentoring and training for 35 developers and operations staff; worked with multiple product owners and project managers of many projects concurrently. RESULT: Reduced operational maintenance cost by 90% and decreased product development time to market by 50%.

They don't need the minutia and you don't want to give it to them. You want to whet their appetite to ask you more questions about your accomplishments. You can get into the gritty details in person where you can better gauge what to say and how to say it.

  • 1
    I agree with describing your accomplishments, but as someone who handles interviewing and hiring recommendations I very much want to know what the candidate's role was: Did they help architect the project, or were they a cog in the coding wheel? Am I hiring someone who can help design things, or just a pair of hands to write come of the code?... – voretaq7 May 15 '12 at 15:23
  • @voretaq7 what you are describing as the role isn't what the OP is asking about as role. Their accomplishments tell you more than a role ever could, and would lead you to asking more delving detailed questions that they can demonstrate deeper knowledge with. Senior Architect doesn't mean anything because the terms Senior and Architect mean different things to different places. Accomplishments are empirical! – user718 May 15 '12 at 16:26
  • Hmm, part of my original comment got eaten. I agree that job title (Programmer, Manager, Tech) is meaningless, but a description of their role ("what they did") like what you have next to your Leadership: label is critical, and may not always correlate directly with accomplishments/results/measurable objectives. This is what tells me at first glance if I am hiring talent, grunt labor, or dead wood. If this is omitted and all I see are a list of nice-sounding accomplishments I have to wonder who put in the actual work to realize those achievements. – voretaq7 May 15 '12 at 19:58
2

I have talked to an IT Resume reviewer about this.

Basically, in Software development it is understood that everyone works as a team. The idea for a feature comes from a business person, the design comes from the Team Lead, etc. So it's not always expected (unless you're a 1 man team) that you worked one a project single-handedly. You can discuss your specific contributions to a project in the interview itself, while still saying "Developed feature to do X and Y which resulted in Z". It is assumed that you worked as part of a team.

You can also specify which projects you did work on "end-to-end" on your resume by writing "Single-handedly designed...," etc.

What is important is that you don't misrepresent yourself or lie in an interview about your actual contribution. It will become obvious you're not telling the truth, if you're working on a team and you completed all the projects on your resume "end-to-end".

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