Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Professional Touch: Experience – Responsibilities

By Darlene Zambruski, ResumeEdge.com Managing Editor, CPRW, SME

Responsibilities are the daily tasks an employee is charged with. In many cases you can cull information from your job description, but to create a truly effective resume you must go several steps further and include within these responsibilities:

1. Data that is unique to your career, field, or industry to indicate your expertise.
2. Information that relates to your job search or a particular posting to dovetail your experience with the targeted company’s
3. Special projects to illustrate how you went beyond a mere job description to become an integral staff member.

Many job seekers mistakenly believe that all duties must be listed in a resume so that a hiring manager gets an accurate picture of previous jobs. Nothing could be further from the truth.

What Should Be Included:

1. Those tasks that directly relate to your current job search.
2. Those tasks that enhance your candidacy.

For example:

You’re a Senior Accountant at XYZ Corporation, having worked your way up from bookkeeper to junior accountant, then to Accountant, and finally to your current position. In the process you’ve become a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), and are ready for a Senior Management or Executive position.

To list the daily duties you performed while a bookkeeper (posting to the general ledger, preparing bank deposits, etc.) does little to impress upon a hiring manager why you are now prepared for career advancement. Hiring managers assume that as a Senior Accountant you know – or should know – how to do entry-level tasks.

So How Do You List Your Entry-level Experience?

One way is to simply state your job and the dates you held it:

Bookkeeper (1991-1992)

Another is to give a brief overview of what you did:

Bookkeeper (1991-1992)
- Charged with general ledger duties.

The most effective is to also include any improvements you made to the process while in the position:

Bookkeeper (1991-1992)
- Instituted additional internal controls to minimize fraud and potential loss of revenue.
- Charged with general ledger duties.

If you can quantify – with a dollar figure or percentage – how much your internal controls aided the company, then this would be an accomplishment.

Presentation of Material

Your Professional Experience should include:

1. Name of Employer (in the case of mergers, both the current name and the previous name)
2. Company Location (the city and state where you worked – not company headquarters)
3. Dates of employment (years only)
4. Your Job Title (and division, if applicable)
5. A bulleted listing of your duties (ordered by level of importance, with the most important listed first)

All data on resumes – including job titles – should be structured in such a way to accentuate the positive and minimize the negative, while also being accurate. Therefore:


Misrepresent your role in a company.
- If you were the “Assistant Editor,” that is your title, unless you prefer “Editor.” To indicate that you were a “Senior Editor” or a “Managing Editor” can easily be checked out by prospective employers and could harm your chances for the position.

Consider Using:

An enhanced version of your title. For example:

Mixologist can be used rather than Bartender

Child Care Worker rather than Babysitter

Owner/Operator rather than Self-employed


- I have had numerous jobs within the same company. Do I keep repeating the company name and then the job titles?

No. Not only is that an ineffective use of space, it’s repetitive. Hiring managers soon grow weary or cautious of data that repeated again and again as it appears that the candidate has little to offer and is padding the resume. Instead, format your data like this:

XYZ COMPANY, New York, New York 1988 – Present
Senior Accountant (1995-Present)
• Most important task
• Next most important task
• Next most important task

Accountant (1992-1995)
• Most important task
• Next most important task
• Next most important task

Junior Accountant (1989-1992)
• Most important task
• Next most important task
• Next most important task

Bookkeeper (1988-1989)
• Most important task
• Next most important task
• Next most important task

Not only does the above offer data in an easily understandable and well-prioritized manner, it also shows a steady upward progression in the candidate’s career.

- How many bulleted job duties should go beneath each title?

At least two, but no more than six. Remember, a hiring manager wants a snapshot of you as a potential employee, not an exhaustive study of everything you’ve ever done. Always exclude duties that do not enhance your candidacy.

- How long should bulleted sentences be?

No more than three lines, though two are preferable. If you submit a document with large blocks of text, the hiring manager will feel daunted while scanning the document, and may choose not to read it. Bulleted sentences should be concise and to-the point. They are employed in the modern resume, rather than paragraphs, because they provide data in quick, easy-to comprehend portions.

- Do I write these sentences in the first person as if I’m talking to the hiring manager?

No. Use of personal pronouns (I, my, etc.) is not considered professional.

Bulleted sentences, within the Professional Experience section, should begin with strong action verbs (which make for more lively reading) and should provide only the most essential data to give the hiring manager a clear picture of what you do or what you have done.


• Recommended new internal controls to minimize fraud risk, which were implemented by management.

Rather Than This:

• I was on the job for some time when I noticed that the internal controls could be improved, so I set up a meeting with my supervisor, and at that meeting I told him that we might be facing some problems in regards to people stealing company funds if we didn’t have better internal controls. After a few weeks, my supervisor put these controls into place.

- Should I list all of my jobs since I got out of college thirty years ago? If not, then how do I let employers know that I’ve been working since graduating from college?

The general rule is go back no further than 15 years. For IT professionals, it’s not necessary to go back further than 10 years as the industry has changed so rapidly.

Rather than providing details for numerous jobs that have little to no bearing on your current search, the earlier positions can be briefly mentioned at the end of the last detailed job listing using the following format:

Additional Experience as a Bookkeeper for Jones & Co. in Manhattan, F.W. Schwartz in Queens, and at Macy’s in New York.

The above informs a hiring manager of your work history without including unnecessary details.

- I’m still at my present position, but some of my projects were completed months ago – how do I indicate this?

Continue to list your most important tasks first, while also ordering them so that present tasks take precedence over completed tasks.

For example:

XYZ COMPANY, New York, New York 1988 – Present
Senior Accountant (1995-Present)
• Oversee a staff of 13, including an office manager, bookkeeper, and 10 junior accountants.
• Generate financial statements for management use.
• Assisted in first quarter audit; recommended additional internal controls.

The first two tasks are written in present tense as these are on-going duties. The third bullet is written in past tense, as this project has been completed.

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