I have received many inquiries from clients who think it’s a good idea to copy their current job description into their resumes, and/or copy the job description of the position they’re applying for into their resumes.
I STRONGLY recommend against both tactics.
1. Copying current job descriptions
Your current job description is just a list of job duties. The cardinal rule for resumes in today’s job market is to write your resume as a list of achievements and accomplishments, NOT as a list of job duties! I would go so far as to say that your job description has very little to do with what you actually do and accomplish in your position.
I’ll take myself as an example. The job description for one of my past positions, at the University of Wisconsin Law School, says that I counsel students on their legal career search. It doesn’t say what my success rate is, or how creatively I work with students’ cover letters and resumes, or that I created a PowerPoint presentation on Resumes for Law Students. It doesn’t mention the 5 job search resource manuals I created for various big cities across the United States. It doesn’t mention the positive feedback I get from the students I work with.
It is my job to put these successes, which are nowhere to be found in my job description, into my resume. They speak much more to what I will accomplish in my next position than that I “assist students with resumes and cover letters.”
Guess what? You don’t need your current job description to write your resume. Just write about the things you’ve done well that will be relevant and impressive to the reader.
2. Copying future job descriptions
Isn’t copying the job description of the job you’re applying for is the best way to ensure you have the right keywords in your resume? NO!! Although the keywords might be there, your ruse will be discovered immediately. If you make this mistake, you will not get called for interviews, and if you do, your lies will be discovered during the interview.
Instead, write your resume to highlight your accomplishments. Create the best document you can create. AFTER you have put together a great resume, THEN see if there are additions and other tweaks you can make to include some of the keywords from the future job description—while staying honest!
I recently worked with a client applying for a Senior IT Director position. The position description listed “Develop and approve exceptions to policy…” His resume initially did not have the phrase “approve exceptions to policy” in it, even though he truly worked with exceptions to policy regularly. He was able to add this phrase into an already existing bullet regarding his program management accomplishments.
In general, when crafting a winning resume, truth and honesty are the best policy. Don’t get lazy or think you’re “working the system” by using the cut and paste functions on your keyboard. What will get you an interview is your unique accomplishments. Focus on those and you will see success in your job search.