Most effective way to state your responsibilities in job descriptions

If you have never written a resume, the blank page you are facing can be very intimidating. While you can describe your job responsibilities to your friends, listing them out in a resume and showcasing how your experience to date meets your career objectives is a very difficult task.

To get started, you must first consider what type of a job you are seeking. Much like your career objective or summery should reflect your professional goals, your current and past experiences must showcase that you are the best candidate for the job you are applying for. In listing your current and past professional experiences, try to focus on those responsibilities that indicate you are qualified to take the next step in your career. Due to the fact that more and more companies as well as job search sites use scanning software to pick out candidates, it is very important that you use key words, including active verbs, to describe your skills. Instead of beginning your job descriptions with “Responsible for” try to use active verbs such as:

– managed

– developed

– created

– communicated

– interfaced

– achieved, etc.

These key words get straight to the point of describing your responsibilities, which is exactly what the employers are looking for. Chose these words carefully – don’t say that you “managed a project”, implying you were responsible for the whole task from start to finish if you were only responsibly for communicating the project to other associates. Instead state that you “Developed and executed the communication strategy for associates,” describing your role more accurately and emphasizing your strengths.

Typically, the first job listed on your resume is the one you currently hold. In this case, make sure that your responsibilities are stated in present tense, as you are still responsible for them. For example, say “Manage accounting activities” instead of “Managed accounting activities.” This will indicate to your potential employer what your day-to-day activities are like and how they compliment responsibilities of the job you are submitting your resume for. All previous jobs should be listed using past tense, and should start with active verbs such as managed, developed, accomplished, etc.

Additionally, make sure that responsibilities you are listing are relevant for to your career objective. List only those responsibilities which help you put your best foot forward. For example, if you are looking for a job that requires managing a team of people, focus on your development and participation in group projects instead of focusing on solitary activities such as office organization.

In terms of formatting, make sure that your responsibilities are listed in bullet points. This formatting is preferred to paragraphs on a resume because it is easier to review quickly. Employers simply scan the resumes and look for key words – if the resume looks overwhelming, with a lot of copy and poor formatting, they will likely discard it. Thus, it is very important that your resume is formatted with enough white space and doesn’t contain any errors.

Prioritizing job descriptions in your resume

The most difficult and time consuming section of any resume is the listing of your work experience, no matter the level you have reached in your professional career. If you have just graduated college and don’t have any full-time professional experience, you are concerned if your part time job and summer internship are enough to get your foot in the door. If you are a seasoned professional with extensive work experience, you are worried how to fit all of your hard work on only one page. If you are changing careers, you are unsure which skills best showcase your qualifications. Listing work responsibilities on our resumes doesn’t get easier as our career progresses. The key is to consider your career objective and prioritize your work in accordance to your goals.

When people are asked about work responsibilities, they have a tendency to disclose the routine items first. This method can be a costly mistake for listing your professional experiences on your resume because it leaves all of the important and key qualifications at the bottom of the list. To avoid falling into this practice, first put together a list of your responsibilities on a sheet of paper. For your initial draft, don’t worry about how you are phrasing each statement – just make a list of everything that you do in your current or have done in your previous jobs.

Once your list is completed, consider all of the responsibilities you have included. What are the three most important items on the list for each job? How do those items relate to your career objective? Are there any other responsibilities you have listed that better support your career objective than the three you picked as the most critical to your job? You have to consider all these questions in order to prioritize your job descriptions on your resume.

Begin each description with a power word, such as managed, developed, communicated, etc. Make sure that the statements you list first quantify your achievements – don’t be afraid to list sales figured, customer acquisition rates, budget and timeline successes, or any other figures which help put your responsibilities in a context of the business/field you are working in. Also, these statements should be aligned with your career objective. If you want to get a job in project management, letting your employer know that you managed a team of 20 people will effectively highlight your qualifications. It is important to quantify your job description statements on your resume; however, as a word of caution, do not quantify all statements, just one or two that are most critical to your job and are goal driven. This shows your employer that you think in terms of exceeding your goals. All subsequent descriptions of your responsibilities should support the first one or two items on your list.

Prioritizing doesn’t only apply to your job descriptions, although it is the most commonly disregarded element in this particular area of the resume. Achievements and qualifications are often misrepresented because they are not ordered properly. Same rules apply – consider which of your achievements and your qualifications are most complimentary to your career objective, and list them first. For example, if you are applying for a job in customer service, list your communication skills before your computer skills. While both are important, your communication skills are more in line with your career objective, and therefore should take priority.

As a final test, put yourself in the shoes of your employer. Cross-check the job description and make sure that you address the qualifications required for the job with the information on your resume. Let your potential employer know you have what they are looking for, and you’ll be sure to make a great impression.