3 ways that job descriptions help build an effective resume

by Rich DeMatteo on August 25, 2009 · 2 comments

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Job descriptions are an extremely powerful tool when it comes to resume writing.  Unfortunately, once securing a job, employees will most likely never see their positions exact job description again.  Tragic.  Along with saving descriptions for previous positions held, I suggest saving/printing any descriptions for the jobs you’d like to obtain.

Here are 3 ways that job descriptions help build an effective resume:

  1. Help write a clear job history – A job description for each of your previous roles helps to clearly point out duties/tasks from those positions.  Along with job responsibilities, your managers title, departmental information, and a company overview may also appear on the job description.  This information can be used to write up the Professional Experience section on a resume.  Keep in mind that most employees go above and beyond the job description, performing duties/tasks that are not included on it.  If you are re-writing your resume and lucky enough to have your job description from previous positions, use it as a guide and make sure to include any job tasks on the descriptions, as well as those you performed that were  not written down.
  2. Help set up resume for your dream job – Once you know what kind of position you’d like to obtain, you can start printing out job descriptions for that  specific role.   Highlight similarities and look for themes.  When you notice duties/tasks on the description that match your previous work experience, do your best to highlight this on your resume.  Never lie, but look for ways to sculpt your resume into one that is perfect for your dream job.
  3. Key Words – Job descriptions are a key word swamp.  In a previous article, I discussed just how critical key words are for a resume.  Look at your previous job descriptions for common key words that you can include on your resume.  These key words will make you easier to find in resume databases.  You should also check for key words in the descriptions of a position you’d like to obtain. Do your best to utilize as many key words as possible, without sounding like a robot.

How to get a hold of both current and previous job descriptions:

  • Current Position – Reach out to your contact in Human Resources, they should be able to track it down for you.  If for some reason you don’t feel comfortable doing so, check your company Career Site.  Most times the same job description is posted over and over again for the same position.  Review it to make sure it looks similar to your role.
  • Previous Position – Contact the Human Resources department from your previous company, or your supervisor if you left on good terms.  If you didn’t leave on good terms, check the public careers site of the company to see if the description has been posted again.  You can also ask a friend inside the company for help.
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