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Tandem Powered offers a full suite of Professional Resume Writing, Career Development, and HR / Business Consulting services.

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Tandem Powered's blog is dedicated to empowering readers by highlighting best practices in the arena of resume writing, career development, and organizational effectiveness, as well as by providing readers with an insider's view of the corporate hiring process.

Achievements vs. Responsibilities on a Resume

Kent Nolen

Q. I get it. I am supposed to only speak to achievements on my resume. The problem is, how does the reader know what my responsibilities were?

A. Given that speaking to achievements is about as close to a "silver bullet" as there is when it comes to creating an effective resume, I am glad to hear that the message is coming through loud and clear. I am also glad that you asked your question, because I think a lot of readers probably share that concern.

Firstly, you don't have to completely eschew speaking to responsibilities. I think it is a great idea to include a brief overview of each position that speaks to your highest level responsibilities in a position.

Having said that, there is a bit of an error in your question because it assumes that achievements do not communicate responsibilities. That could not be further from the case. Let's use the role of Corporate IT Manager as an example. Here is a straight-forward responsibility:

• Manage vendor relationships and negotiate vendor contracts.

Now let's see an associated accomplishment (from a very impressive Corporate IT Manager I recently worked with):

• Achieved 60% cost reduction for wired Internet services across all sites by negotiating more cost effective broadband contracts.

See how that achievement makes it perfectly clear that the candidate was responsible for managing vendor relationships and negotiating vendor contracts. I mean, how could she have achieved that cost reduction if negotiating vendor contracts wasn't part of her role

As you develop your resume, keep this is in mind. People hiring for a position will have a pretty good handle on the requirements for that role, so don't waste critical space speaking just to responsibilities. Instead, tell readers specifically how you have performed those duties by speaking to clear, specific achievements.