Resume Position Descriptions vs. Accomplishments

Here is a guide to structuring a position description and an accomplishments section on a professional resume. The position description is essential in creating the context in which the accomplishments can be understood and evaluated and hopefully impress the reader of the resume.

Structuring the Position Description for a Professional Resume

The position description is usually one to four lines placed immediately after the Position/Job Title. If there is a lot of information in the job description, consider if all of it is necessary or if some of it should be converted to accomplishments.

Guiding Principle: The goal of the position description on a professional resume is to tell the reader what the company and your boss and HR think they are paying you to do.

  1. Size and scope the job: How big is it, for example in dollars, people, and/or geographical span
  2. If you have an usual – and important – reporting relationship that can be described, for example in a matrix environment, to a skip-level boss or to an important person who would be recognized.
  3. If you have been given the job to “fix something”, the description can start with “Chartered with…” or “Tasked with…” or “Recruited to…”. Of course, if this is your job, your first and foremost accomplishment with be that you did in fact do what you were brought in to do.
  4. This information is followed with a statement beginning “Responsibilities include(d) a, b, c and d.” These are usually straightforward and reflect the specific areas that you handle. This is also an opportunity to provide the keywords that make the professional resume more effective in keyword searches.

Structuring Accomplishments for a Professional Resume

Accomplishments in a professional resume are best presented in bullet point format ideally of one to two lines each. The list should be limited to four to six per job and can be less where appropriate. For short tenure jobs or very old jobs, accomplishments might be eliminated entirely.

Guiding Principle: If there is too much undifferentiated text in a resume, no one will read it.

If the list is too long, it can be broken up with sub-headings, usually with no more than four accomplishments per heading. This is most appropriate when someone has been in a job for many years and, as such, there is a lot of ground to cover. Also, individual bullets can also have topical headings (a couple of words, perhaps bolder or underlined, followed by a colon followed by text) to communicate key information. For jobs that are focused less on accomplishments than on skills, knowledge or subject matter expertise, the bullet points can be used to highlight that instead.