Defining and Describing Your Job Title: Resumes That Get You Hired

Updated on Nov 30, 2010

AS YOU WRITE your resume, it's critical that you properly communicate your past work experience in a way that readers easily understand. Never assume that the person reading your resume will totally comprehend your job responsibilities, accomplishments, and the skills needed to achieve your position's requirements, simply because you listed an impressive job title on your resume. Likewise, make sure the job titles you list under the employment section of your resume aren't too generic or so specific that they don't apply to another company's needs.

More often than not, someone's job title doesn't begin to describe anything about the job itself. For example, the job title Manager doesn't explain what the person's responsibilities were, whom they managed, what they managed, what they accomplished, what skills were required, or anything else a potential employer might find useful. This is all information potential employers need to know before they can make an educated decision about hiring you.

As you list your job titles, try to make them as descriptive as possible, so that someone who isn't necessarily familiar with your line of work will be able to determine what your strengths are as an applicant.

Where to Find Information About Job Responsibilities and Requirements

In addition to all of the online resources listed in Appendix C, the Occupational Outlook Handbook ( is a nationally recognized source of career information, designed to provide valuable assistance to individuals making decisions about their future work lives. This is an excellent resource for understanding job titles and responsibilities, and determining how you can incorporate this information into your resume.

For each job title or occupation featured within the Occupational Outlook Handbook, you will find detailed information about the:

  • Nature of the work
  • Working conditions
  • Training, other qualifications, and advancement
  • Job outlook
  • Earnings
  • Related occupations
  • Sources of additional information

From these sections, you should easily be able to find important buzzwords and other information to help you sell yourself to an employer. For example, if the Occupational Outlook Handbook lists specific qualifications required to land a job in the field or industry in which you hope to work, your resume should reflect that you have those qualifications (assuming you actually have them, of course).

Once you know a typical employer's requirements, you can cater your resume directly to a company by incorporating keywords, industry buzzwords, and other lingo that you know a potential employer is looking for. Pay careful attention to the "Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement" section of the entry in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Here you will find a listing of specific skills, licenses, degrees, accreditations, and so forth required to enter a given field. Hopefully, your personal qualifications will match nicely with what the Occupational Outlook Handbook lists as required to land a job in the field in which you're interested.

Read Help-Wanted Ads Carefully

Another way to gather information that will help you list appropriate job titles, skills, and job-related responsibilities within your resume is to carefully read and evaluate the job description or help-wanted ad provided by the potential employer for which you'd like to work.

If the ad states the employer is looking for someone with three to five years' experience working in a specific position, make sure your resume reflects this information. Likewise, if the ad states proficiency using Microsoft Office 2000, for example, as a job requirement, this too needs to be highlighted in your resume.

Make sure the job opening being advertised is specifically the one you position yourself to be qualified to fill. Specific job titles, educational backgrounds, and skills listed on your resume should all match what the employer is looking for. In many cases, this requires that you customize your resume so that it's targeted to a specific job offered by a specific employer.

If the ad or job description to which you're responding doesn't contain enough detail, find five or ten others that are similar but from other employers. Try to incorporate the buzzwords and pertinent information from those ads into your resume to ensure your resume markets you as a qualified candidate for the type of job you're hoping to fill.

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