Getting Better at Resume Writing: Results Oriented Job Descriptions

By Cynthia “Arty” Ng (Follow us on LinkedIn)

I used to think I was good at resume writing. However, I recently realized I was okay, but not great at it. Considering my success rate, I’d like to say it was “good enough”. Though who am I to shy away from thinking about how to get better, especially when I often get asked to review people’s applications and provide feedback. I originally posted about this topic on LinkedIn and on Mastodon. In this post, I wanted to expand on it.

Ideas for my resume by Markus Winkler

Brief Context and The Why

Not long ago, I was reviewing my resume and what I have posted on LinkedIn as the job description of the various positions I’ve had. None of it is incorrect, but I felt like something wasn’t quite right either. I then realized that it was the way the descriptions were written. At GitLab, as much as possible, we measure results, not hours. If you think about your performance reviews, you’re usually focused on your results as well. Getting results is the proof of your success. Why wouldn’t you want to highlight those successes where you can?

Before: List of Responsibilities

When I was taught how to write resumes, I was taught to write a list of responsibilities. Even LinkedIn’s text field says it’s the “job description”. Naturally, it’s easy to just copy and paste the responsibilities from an “official” job description you had for a particular role and be done. You’ll probably do some tweaking, but it is a very efficient way of getting it done.

Here’s a partial comparison of my previous job’s list of responsibilities from the job posting, and (more or less) what I had on LinkedIn:

  • With direct reports, oversees day-to-day operations of work areas and establishes annual work plans
  • Ensures that the cataloging and classification of materials balance industry standards with the needs of library users
  • Management of vendor relationships and contracts related to technology and acquisitions
  • Liaises with City of New Westminster IT staff regarding technology troubleshooting and technology planning
  • Makes recommendations to the Leadership Team regarding the need for emerging hardware, software and technology services for the public
  • Represents the Library on select City of New Westminster Committees, and on related committees in the library community
  • Oversaw day-to-day operations and staff in technical services, technology, and assisted in other areas.
  • Ensured that the cataloguing and classification of materials balanced industry standards with the needs of library users.
  • Managed vendor relationships and contracts related to collections, technical services, and technology.
  • Managed public-facing technology overall, including liaising with City IT staff regarding technology troubleshooting and technology planning.
  • Made recommendations to the Leadership Team especially regarding the need for emerging hardware, software and technology services for the public.
  • Participated in select City wide initiatives relating to technology and innovation.

You can tell I made very few changes to the existing list of responsibilities.

After: Describing Results

Instead of simply listing what your responsibilities were, think about what results you have achieved. You’re not going to be able to rewrite everything this way, but highlight your achievements at the top of the job description. Honestly, I’m still working on it, but here are a few examples that I came up with to replace the generic responsibilities:

  • Implemented and managed technology projects, collections changes, and circulation changes.
  • Trained on and documented processes and procedures, and provided troubleshooting to users.
  • Coordinated and managed reports and statistics including pulling reports from the ILS using SQL.
  • Ensured that the cataloguing and classification of materials balanced industry standards with the needs of library users.
  • Managed and administered the library’s integrated library system.
  • Improved technical services team efficiency from weeks-long (200+ books) backlog to 1-2 day (20+ books) backlog through research, planning, and change management of revised workflows and division of work.
  • Collaborated with circulation and collections department to increase usage and user satisfaction with TV DVD collection through better segmentation of loan policies, and DVD grouping.
  • Coordinated and produced reports, for board and ministry, on collections and its usage primarily through pulling data using SQL queries.
  • Improved consistency of metadata and findability of material by implementing revised cataloguing guidelines to use RDA (Resource Description and Access) and standard Authorities when possible, including providing training and resources.
  • Improved administration and management of the library’s integrated library system (ILS) through better configuration, such as simplifying circulation rules (from 100+ to ~30), and more consistent collection/location naming.

While the list of responsibilities was a bit more to the point, I do think the revised versions are better descriptors of what I did. And while I may not be specifically saying things like that I “managed the ILS”, hopefully stating that I improved it implies that being the ILS administrator was part of my role.

Take Away

Not everything is going to be describable in a results-oriented way, but try to do it wherever you can. It definitely has a much better impact on describing what you achieved, rather than just what you were supposed to be doing.


Notes Between Us (NBU) is a blog about conversations and topics of interest to the writers. The writers are expressing their personal opinions solely. The essays represent their personal beliefs and not those of their workplaces or any organization they are associated with.