This morning I read a post from Linkedin resume writer and best-selling author Jim Giammatteo on the utility of listing responsibilities on resumes. Giammatteo suggests that if you’re going to use precious page real-estate to list out what you were responsible for (as opposed to what you did) that you keep it short and concise because the value add is limited. This is a really good post, and I recommend checking it out here.
With that said, having filled well over a hundred jobs over the past two years spanning a wide range of complexity and scope, I would like to share some personal insights on this particular topic as well as – by extension – the value add of a well written resume.
…So as a caveat to the advice/thoughts I am about to share, I will first say that a shocking number of job seekers apply to jobs for which they have no directly applicable experience while simultaneously failing to qualify why they are a fit (via either a cover letter or their resume itself). Ergo – and this varies by job posting – generally speaking a large percentage (in some cases upwards of 40%) of applicants automatically DQ themselves from the process simply because they don’t effectively communicate in their resumes that they have the skills, experience and capabilities required to do the work as described.
What this means in practice is that if you are selective in the sorts of jobs you apply to and know how to get your resume in front of a hiring manager/decision maker then the responsibilities-listing approach may very well work for you; simply by applying for jobs for which one has directly applicable experience, the odds of being considered for a role are better than those of a big chunk of applicants.
…But I will also say (to Giammatteo’s point) that anecdotally speaking, candidates that take the time to qualify and quantify their achievements in their resumes typically interview better than those that just lists their job duties and responsibilities. To be sure, if my applicant pool for a role is thin enough (as it has often been filling jobs in rural and undesirable locations) then I will interview both sorts of candidates. But the former sort are often better prepared, and have a greater handle on how exactly they can add value to the position for which they are interviewing.
With that said, perhaps a balanced mix works best here. Below is one of the jobs on my resume/LinkedIn profile. Note that I take a few short sentences to explain what I do (complexity, accountability, scope) and then list out my accomplishments (actions and deliverables/results) in bullet-point form:
As an HR Generalist, I serve as a primary HR point of contact to a client group of approximately 270 operations, commercial, and support employees at ____’s division headquarters. I manage employee relations, employee discipline, site investigations, site communications, recruiting, labor contract interpretation, safety, training, and workforce/staff development. I also supervise (workforce direction, payroll, compliance, etc.) a seven person department of hourly employees. Some of my accomplishments to date include:
•Decreasing year over year average job time to fill 100% by streamlining the onboarding process
•Partnering with the local union and site management to successfully negotiate a labor agreement extension
•Optimizing the knowledge transfer process by partnering with managers to design SOPs and train new employees on work procedures
•Developing and implementing new recruiting processes, expanding both the pool of talent and quality of final round applicants for historically hard-to-fill positions
•Driving employee participation in the location’s safety program, conducting internal studies to assess program engagement and leveraging the results to implement changes which increased participation by over 20%
Is the above a good way to write a resume? I don’t know – you tell me.
And if you’re a recruiter, what do you think when you see a responsibilities laden (but achievements light) resume?
As always, please share your thoughts in the comments sections below.