Resumes Are Not For Job Descriptions

I have a fair amount of people who ask me for help with their resumes, and a recent conversation on LinkedIn highlighted a common issue I see:  Many people waste valuable space on their resumes giving descriptions of their job responsibilities.  There are probably many (supposedly legitimate) reasons to include descriptions of the responsibilities you’ve held in your resume.  What are they?

The Person Reviewing the Resume Won’t Understand That My Experience Applies:

Many people seem to feel like if they don’t explain what it is they did in their very special, unique position at Joe Bob’s Brokerage Firm that the reviewer won’t understand that they are a great fit.  Here’s a quick secret…  If you are applying for a field landman job then use a generic title tailored to the position you are applying for.  Something like “Landman, Crew Chief, Abstractor, Title Landman, Right of Way Agent, Lease Buyer” etc.   I promise, they will get the point, and they know what you do.

If you are applying for an in-house position, don’t try to hide the fact that you were a field landman (they will know).   Just be open and descriptive with your job title, I think it is helpful to say “Field Landman” or something similar to make it apparent what type of experience it is.  Focus on highlighting accomplishments that mesh with the job description of the job you want.  Check out this post if you aren’t sure what an in-house landman actually does.  While I’m on this topic, please don’t have your resume say “I’m Joe Smith and I worked for Smith Land Co. as President for 12 years.”  That is useless.  Don’t do it.

The Person Writing the Resume Doesn’t Know What Else To Write:

This is probably the biggest reason I end up seeing job descriptions in the experience section of a resume.  People just aren’t sure what else to do, and they know they need something there.  Hint #2:  Your job description rarely ever belongs on your resume.

The experience area is a place to showcase your accomplishments and help a potential employer decide they would like someone to do the same things for them.  If you have a hard time coming up with specific accomplishments or important projects you were a part of, maybe you need to think about if you are just doing your job and going home.  The people who get involved and put in extra work end up with great resume material.  And if you don’t believe me listen to my friend who is an experienced recruiter:

You Are Transitioning From a Job That Might Not Be an Obvious Fit:


This is possibly the only situation where it might be appropriate to include some information about your job responsibilities.  If you have a particular job on your resume that doesn’t obviously build skills that are useful in the position you are applying for.  However, if this is the case you have other options.  The first is to go back to #2 and show that you were an integral employee who brought value by your accomplishments.  The other possibility might be to slightly modify your job description to make it more descriptive of your responsibilities.  (I liken this to changing “landman” to “title landman”)  Be careful doing this and don’t choose a title that is a stretch.  If you get caught trying to embellish then you can kiss that interview goodbye.

So What Do You Do?

As I’ve already mentioned, the suggestion I typically make is to showcase what you’ve done in that valuable space on your resume.  How many acres did you lease?  Did you negotiate a PSA on 50,000 acres?  Perhaps you developed a database to track wellbore interests for your asset area?  Maybe you supervised a team of twelve abstractors producing runsheets for a 7 rig schedule?

Do everything you can to show your accomplishments, and make sure when you are working that you are being a part of projects that will generate great resume material.  I’ll reiterate:  If you find that you don’t have great accomplishments to share on your resume, maybe you need to reevaluate how you are doing your job and devoting yourself to your work.

If you want more resume tips check out my other articles on the subject.

Randy Young

Randy Young

Randy is a land consultant with experience in field and in-house land work, land administration, and software consulting with systems used in the land management business. He is an active member of the AAPL, HAPL, and NHAPL and is a regular attendee of industry functions. Randy's latest projects have included land data systems integrations, with a focus on Quorum Land System.