Does your resume generate excitement by selling what you can do, or does it make a bland statement that elicits the question: "So what?" It can mean the difference between being invited in for an interview... and getting no response at all.
A "responsibility" reads like a job description. It fails to distinguish you from any other person who currently or previously held a similar job. It states your function, but it doesn't speak to your ability to perform that function.
By contrast, an accomplishment differentiates you from anyone else that does, or has done, that job. It not only indicates how well you perform your job, but what type of person you are. Measured with the length of time you were at a company, your number of accomplishments indicates the degree to which you are a go-getter.
Accomplishments on your resume can show:
- That you're motivated to go well beyond average
- How much pride you take in your work
- Whether you look for problems and ways to solve them, or whether you're content with saying, "That's good enough"
- How well you know your job
- How well you solved problems on the job
Provide Answers, Not Questions
Let's look at an example. If you're a teacher, a responsibility might read:
- Developed innovative, education-based curriculum
This leaves the following questions:
- For what classes did you develop a curriculum?
- Why did it need to be developed?
- What was going on before it was developed?
- What was the result of the development? Interviewers want answers, not questions. Since the responsibility statement doesn't indicate how well you performed your job, it's easier not to invite you in for an interview.
Interviewers assume you don't have anything to say, because you didn't say it. They don't care that perhaps you didn't know how to say it. If your resume doesn't sell you, it's not their problem. It's yours.
Accomplishments Mean Less Employer Risk
Here's how the accomplishment version of the same statement might read:
- Created and implemented innovative, education-based curriculum that engaged students more actively, resulting in 75 percent of student body raising grades by average of a full point
This shows that you're worth talking to. At the interview, it encourages the interviewer to inquire about what types of programs you implemented and how you implemented them.
An accomplishment is a results-oriented statement that says how well you did something. What you're saying is, "This is what I've done and this is how well I did it." Essentially, "When you hire me, you aren't risking an unknown. You're hiring someone who has a proven ability to do the job successfully."
Interviewers want to know this before the interview. They don't want to wonder, and they don't want to figure it out. If your resume doesn't indicate what you're capable of, the chance of an interview in which to sell yourself is slim.
You, the Product
If you've been sending out resumes and getting nothing in response, take a look at your bullets under each company name. Do they just say what you did, or how well you did it?
You're selling a product, and the product is you. The interviewer is the buyer, and your resume is, in effect, your marketing brochure. But if the buyer isn't interested, you can't close the sale. And that's your problem, not theirs.