by Hunter R. Slaton | January 01, 2010

In their book Resume Empower, Tom Washington and Gary Kanter take readers through a résumé-strengthening process. One key exercise, which they use with clients at Bellevue, Wash.-based Career Management Resources (careerempowering.com), is to produce a "job sketch," in which a person lists all the major and even minor duties of a particular position, as well as special projects.

When making the job sketch, ask yourself what exactly that duty resulted in. "When we are good at what we do, many of our activities produce results that are valuable to our employer or our customers," Washington says. "Often these results can be quantified, either by using hard numbers or by estimating the result. Doing so -- and showing the results with percentage or dollar signs -- can produce great impact."

Even if hard numbers are hard to come by, Washington notes that simply describing the benefits of one's actions can be very effective.

What follows is the evolution of the job description of Martha Conti, a job-seeking planner based in Boston, during the process of her coaching by Washington. The object was to describe her former functions as director of global event services at Virtual Inc., an international association management company, as effectively as possible.

Conti's original job description
• Oversaw event strategy; overall responsibility for all logistical planning and operations of clients' domestic and international meetings, conferences and events.

• Initiated policy of requiring detailed budgets for each event and conference. Created events within budget. Kept clients informed of potential differentials and reconciled issues. Successfully reached profit goals for revenue-generating conferences.

• Significantly improved the professional image of the clients' conferences and events through initiating considerable enhancements to communications, logistics and on-site experience.

• Successfully negotiated hotel and vendor contracts, resulting in up to 20 percent savings for clients.

• Developed strong working relationships with clients throughout the United States and Europe.

• Ensured that sponsorship benefits were fulfilled and sponsors gained the required visibility on-site.

• Hired and trained event team assistants and interns. Cultivated positive and encouraging work environment and developed team members into effective event producers.

• Event team responsible for up to 60 events per year, with budgets up to $300,000 ranging to 1,600 attendees.

According to Washington, "Conti's original résumé was well-written, though it contained only one major result, 'Successfully negotiated hotel and vendor contracts, resulting in up to 20 percent savings for clients.' She also noted that she had 'successfully reached profit goals for revenue-generating conferences.' After speaking with her for 10 minutes, I knew she had more results. We discussed creating a job sketch, and she went to it."

Conti's job sketch
"For this exercise, Conti used her original bullet points from her résumé and then added results to them," says Washington. "Her added material is shown in bold. Almost every bullet point now has a result."

• Oversaw event strategy; overall responsibility for all logistical planning and operations of clients' domestic and international meetings, conferences and events.

• Initiated policy of requiring detailed budgets for each event and conference. Kept clients informed of potential differentials and reconciled issues. Successfully reached profit goals for revenue-generating conferences, which resulted in client satisfaction and client retention.

• Significantly improved the professional image of clients' conferences and events through initiating considerable enhancements to communications, logistics and on-site experience, resulting in growth in attendance, growth in number of events, and directly impacted Virtual's ability to market and grow client base.

• Successfully negotiated hotel and vendor contracts, consistently resulting in 10-20 percent savings for clients.

• Ensured that sponsorship benefits were fulfilled and sponsors gained the required visibility on-site, resulting in repeat sponsors and ability to attract new sponsors, and help our clients' achieve their revenue goals.

• Participated in company strategic planning and decision making as a member of senior management team, which resulted in improvements to the business development process and company profitability.

• Recruited and trained event team assistants and interns. Cultivated positive and encouraging work environment and developed team members into effective event producers, resulting in a team that could successfully support the multiple clients with various requirements and needs and have a direct impact on the growth of Virtual.

• Event team responsible for up to 60 events per year, with budgets up to $300,000 ranging to 1,600 attendees, which resulted in significant contribution to the company's profitability.

Created client event calendar for internal access, resulting in better planning by IT, Accounting, PR and Marketing.

Successfully "saved" a client who had marketed a two-day conference for 200 people (but had not planned any of the logistics), by taking over the planning with just one month lead time.

Trained colleagues (non-event planners) on how to manage small events. Educated olleagues on the critical components of planning a successful event and how they can help guide the process through their interaction with the client.

Conti's final job description

"One key aspect of creating a job sketch is to include every duty and project that might possibly be a candidate for inclusion in the résumé," notes Washington. "Those items not used can still be great stories to tell in interviews. Only by having a complete list of duties and projects can you effectively decide what to use. The sketch makes this part of résumé-writing much easier."

Following is Conti's final description of her position at Virtual Inc.

• Oversaw event strategy and directed scope of event services. Overall responsibility for all logistical planning and operations of clients' domestic and international meetings, conferences and events. Event team responsible for up to 60 events per year, with budgets up to $300,000 ranging to 1,600 attendees.

• Significantly improved the professional image of clients' conferences and events through initiating considerable enhancements to communications, logistics and on-site experience, resulting in both increased attendance for client events and growth of client base.

• Streamlined all event processes, including registration, budget management, planning, external communications, shipping, supply management, event calendar tracking and storage. This streamlining produced time savings of 200 to 300 hours of staff time annually.

• Initiated a policy of requiring detailed budgets for each event and conference. By keeping clients better informed and giving them a greater sense of control, client satisfaction rose dramatically. The detailed budgets also enabled Virtual to achieve profit goals for revenue-generating conferences.

• Successfully negotiated hotel and vendor contracts, consistently producing 10-20 percent in savings for clients.

• Ensured that sponsorship benefits were fulfilled and sponsors gained the required visibility on-site, resulting in repeat sponsors, attraction of new sponsors and contribution to revenue goals.

• Played a key role in company strategic planning and decision making as a member of the senior management team.

• Recruited and trained event team assistants and interns. Cultivated a positive and encouraging work environment and developed team members into effective and valuable event producers.

 "Note the effect of results," says Washington. "Some of her duties are quantified, and some are described in such a way that you know Conti devotes great energy and skill to her craft."