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Presenting Past Job Duties in the Best Light There are many people, recent college graduates especially, that do not make full use out of their resumes due to the inability to see more in themselves. Because of simply listed job duties, there are many college graduates that miss out on reaching their initial career goals simply because they are not using their resumes to their full potential. No matter what the degree earned, whether it is a business marketing degree or a degree in human resources, college graduates will need to make full use of their resumes in order to achieve their desired career goals. One of the main mistakes that resume writers often make when drafting their first resume is oversimplifying past job duties.

Experience Typically, for those individuals who are just beginning their careers, the list of jobs under the past work experience section of the resume can look pretty bleak. So while it is vastly, vitally, and absolutely crucially important to not elaborate former job duties to the point of lying on the resume, there are still ways to position the job duties in their best light and therefore reflect positively on the applicant. If an applicant’s past jobs are similar to most every other college grad looking for a career for the first time, then there is most likely going to be a long list of high school type summer jobs—flipping burgers, washing windows, landscaping duties, clerking at a local grocery store, and the like. Initially, these jobs do not seem like the kind that a serious job seeker should put on a resume, but pointing out the helpful nature of each job will enable the applicant to not only list these jobs on their resume but likewise have these menial jobs help them to land their dream job. For example, take someone who worked landscaping through college. Perhaps these individuals are nervous to list this job among their other work experiences thinking that it is not relevant to the career they are applying for.


If one does feel this way and chooses to leave out the landscaping job from their list of past work experiences then they miss out on a great opportunity to show their prospective employer what skills they truly have. Similarly, if one simply lists the job without further explanation of what skills and characteristics the job has given to them then they will likewise miss out on a great opportunity for personal endorsement. To model this principle of listing job duties effectively, consider the previous example of a person who worked landscape through college. Instead of choosing to omit this experience or simply listing it as a hired laborer in landscape, this person writing their resume may wish to say something like the following when listing their job duties for landscaping. “Landscape engineer where I learned how to organize a project, coordinate supply consumption and logistics, delegate responsibilities to a team, work as a team, and work until the job was completed.� In this way, a prospective employer no longer see landscape as an irrelevant job from the past, but a position that has prepared the applicant for their new role in the company. Photo credit: ScottKellum,

Presenting Past Job Duties in the Best Light