Tell Me What You Actually Do, Not Just What You’re Responsible For Doing

More than half of the resumes brought to me for updating mention “responsibility”: “I’m responsible for supervising, organizing, selling, buying, managing, training, building…”

I cringe at “responsibility”, and you should too. Here’s why: On seeing a list of responsibilities, your reader can get distracted daydreaming about how often you dropped the ball. One of the fundamental rules of marketing yourself is that if you distract your reader, you may lose her attention for good.

We all have responsibilities. We are responsible for driving the speed limit. We are responsible for paying for purchases. In my house, we are responsible for putting away shoes and clothes. Do we always do what we should? Does it make any difference if our responsibility is spelled out in a law, contract, or chart? Of course not. Just because you say you have an obligation doesn’t mean you carry it out correctly, reliably or admirably.

Much more impressive than having a responsibility is following through on it. The reader must understand how you fulfill your duties. So don’t hesitate to brag on your successes. A list of accomplishments makes you memorable, since other potential employees may have responsibilities like yours, but none can flaunt the same combination of achievements.

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