Are you a ‘doer’ or an ‘achiever?’ The answer may determine your future employment

Photo by 傅甬 华 via Unsplash

The job search drags on with zero positive signs. I paid a company to read my resume and offer feedback. They said I sound more like a “doer rather than an achiever.”

I relayed this statement to Mom 2.0, the retired east Des Moines hairdresser.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” she said.

I’m not sure, I said.

From the context, I would guess that “achievers” are preferred over “doers.”

I disagree with the distinction.

In my old shop, I was assigned stories to write. I optimized the files for search engines. I arranged for photos and video. I made deadlines.

I met or exceeded the standards of the shop and the trade as a whole.

Does that make me a “doer” or an “achiever?”

It seems like pointless semantics.

I did the work.

I achieved my goal.

I think the “doer vs. achiever” dichotomy comes from the bent minds of corporate America, a way to denigrate the great and good “doers” of our workforce.

The kind of person who prefers an “achiever” over a “doer” is the kind of jerk who says “lead, follow or get the hell out of the way” as if it were a fresh call to action rather than a trite cliché.

But let’s unpack this farther. Let’s say “achievers” are leaders, the upwardly mobile rising stars who seek to transform organizations with their emerging brilliance.


What about the followers?

You need some of those, right?

You can’t have an army of all generals. You need some privates and corporals to get things done.

I prided myself on being a guy who got things done. I took assignments big and small and got them done, done well and on time.

That somehow makes me lesser in the eyes of potential employers.

Of course it does.

Everything I’ve learned during this stint of unemployment is how inhuman our work life truly is.

Companies long ago gave up on having actual people read resumes and interview people. They turned that job all over to software that combs through resumes with an algorithm.

When the obituary for America is written, the cause of death will not be the failure of humans to govern themselves, greed, the COVID-19 pandemic or even global warming.

No, America was murdered by algorithms.

From Facebook and Twitter to Google, the entirety of marketing is an attempt to pander to or trick algorithms into putting products in front of consumers who are busy taking their selfies in front of Rome ablaze.

The resume critique suggested I quantify my work achievements. Whenever possible I was to attach a number to statements about my work.

I did not work in sales, although at the end, it sure felt like I did.

This is what I did for most of the last 23 years: I talked to people on the phone, looked at documents and wrote down what they said.

Sometimes I went to an event, like a homicide or fire, and talked to people who were there. I wrote down what they said and put it in story form.

There are no numbers for this. I suppose I could somehow figure out how many stories I wrote for my old shop. But what difference does that make?

I could have written a million stories, but if 998,000 of them were garbage, who cares?

Quality over quantity, right?


Quantify everything.

It is the way of the algorithm.

It is the way of the achiever.

All hail the great Achievers!

My favorite movie is the Coen Brothers’ “The Big Lebowski.” In the movie, a blowhard who poses as a wealthy philanthropist brags about his achievements.

In the end, viewers learn the blowhard actually receives an allowance from his daughter, an artist who controls the estate of her wealthy late mother.

The achiever was a bum. He wasn’t even a “doer.”

I think I probably am a “doer.”

I’ll wear that label with pride despite the contempt the achievers have for people like me.

I like it, in fact.

Doers don’t preen. They don’t have their eyes on the next promotion.

They just want to get the damn job done.

Here’s to the doers, my people and my tribe.

Daniel P. Finney, independent journalist

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy. is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit


  1. droll53 says:

    This is really good. In my workplace, they measure by machine statistics. They ignore necessary physical labor because there is no way to quantify it. Those machines can never spit out statistics without the material manually brought to the machine to process. Thank you for standing up for essential work that may not be flashy, but pays the bills. Both are important and necessary.


  2. June F Johnson says:

    Wow, another “right on” commentary on the judgement that we pass on others. Favorite and most pointed line “taking selfies while Rome burns”!! Are you considering wring a book on the subject of the inhumanity of the job search? You would impact SO many people with your insights! Keep up your fight, don’t give up-there is a place for you where you will be truly valued for your talents.


  3. Artis Reis says:

    Thank you. You always make me think. I regard that as an achievement.


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