Separating Accomplishments from Responsibilities

I’ve written a lot about the importance of accomplishments on a resume.  Accomplishments show what you did, while responsibilities show what you’re supposed to do.  Because accomplishments are so important to make a good impression, you should separate them from the list of responsibilities. The resume I read this morning did the opposite of this.

The resume had a chronological structure, with four sections: Objective, Work Experience, Education and Certifications.  The structure works pretty well.  I would have added a fifth section, Technical Skills, because the job seeker is in a very technical engineering role in the telecom industry.  This isn’t the big problem, though. The work experience section does little to show whether the job seeker has been successful.

In the work experience section, each listing followed the same format:

Job Title, Employment Dates
Company Name, City and State
<A bulleted list of responsibilities and accomplishments>

By titling the text under each job as Responsibilities, the job seeker creates an expectation that there won’t be any accomplishments listed.  It is unnecessary to say specifically “Responsibilities,” because anyone reading the resume is going to expect some description of the role. 

I turns out the job seeker did list some accomplishments.  There weren’t many, but each job had at least one.  In each case, it was the last bullet listed under each job.  This ensures someone reading the resume will find the accomplishments as one of the last items read. 

An easy way to fix this would be to summarize the responsibilities in a paragraph and put the accomplishments in a bulleted list.  This will draw the reader’s attention to the accomplishments ahead of the responsibilities and make a much stronger first impression.