Stating Your Responsibilities in a Job Description

Early stages of resume writing

If you have ever had to write a resume, you know that the blank page you are looking at just before writing a word on it can be very challenging; so you can imagine the dread and/or intimidation experienced at the same juncture, by individuals who have never had to write a resume and suddenly compelled to do so, especially when they may not fully understand whether they need a functional or chronological resume . It’s very easy for most people to describe job responsibilities to family and friends; but listing them in a resume to showcase how their experience aligns with career objectives is difficult.

That having been said, let’s talk a little about those early stages of resume writing, including the “getting started” stage, during which you must first consider what type of a job you are seeking. Much like your career objective or summary, this stage should reflect your professional goals, and your current and past experiences must showcase – in a convincing manner – why you are the candidate best suited for the job being offered.

In listing your current and past professional experiences, it is important to keep focus on those responsibilities that are indicative of your qualifications, and why they place you in a unique position for taking the next step in your career. Considering 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 keywords, including active verbs, to describe your skills.

Key words for your job descriptions

Instead of beginning your job descriptions with “Responsible for” try to use active verbs such as:

  • managed
  • developed
  • created
  • communicated
  • interfaced
  • achieved, among others

These key words get straight to the point of describing your responsibilities, which is exactly what employers are looking for. Choose these words carefully though, because you don’t want to say that you “managed a project”, implying you were responsible for the whole task from start to finish, if in fact, you were only responsibly for communicating the project to other associates. Instead state that you “Developed and executed the communication strategy for associates,” thereby describing your role more accurately and emphasizing your strengths; this way you’ll be sure to submit a well-written resume to prospective employers.

Properly formatting your resume

Typically, the first job listed on your resume is the one you currently hold. In this case it is important to 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 current day-to-day activities are, and how they compliment responsibilities of the job you are submitting your resume for.

about resumes, cover letters and interviews

All previous jobs should be listed using past tense, and should start with active verbs such as managed, developed, accomplished, etc. Additionally, make sure the 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, such that 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, since such formatting is preferred to paragraphs on a resume simply because it is easier to review quickly. Employers often just scan the resumes and look for key words –and 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.