Accomplishments vs. Responsibilities

Seems I have been repeating myself.  I hear myself say to my clients, “but if you don’t tell the potential employer about all the great things you accomplished in your last role – how will they know how amazing you are?  Should they guess? Or assume?”  They won’t.

As a Career Solutions Consultant and Coach, I find myself having this conversation quite often. The clients I work with aren’t always shy, or unassuming. Simply, we have grown up in a culture that values humility.  And while I too subscribe to humility - the two times I side-step it would be in the resume and in the interview. To “water-down” your accomplishments makes it difficult to understand what you bring to the table - leaving potential employers underwhelmed.

Now, I’m not saying you should pound your chest and yell to the roof top that you are the best thing since sliced bread.  But I am saying that there are facts about your accomplishments that simply need to be shared. Potential employers and recruiters need to understand what you have accomplished not just what have been responsible for – and there is a difference. What you were responsible for would be the same no matter who was in the role.  What you have accomplished is yours to own. It is unique to only you and shows what and how you have contributed to the success of an organization.  And that is not bragging – that would be the facts of your career. The facts that set you apart, or better yet, over and above your competition.

Don’t think you have accomplishments to speak of?  I’ll bet you do.  Ever create a spreadsheet that captured data for the sales team? Or support a colleague during a challenging system transition? Or earn a reputation for being consistently positive and impacting team morale? Or save the company 1.4 million dollars in lost revenue? Sometimes the accomplishments are measurable – sometimes they are not.  And they come in all shapes and sizes.  Potential employers value that kind of information as they have a decision to make - so make it easy for them to decide.

So the next time you find yourself in an interview and hear yourself say, “I was responsible for managing the sales team.” Rewind the tape and instead say, “I led the sales team in the successful acquisition of six key national accounts representing over 17% market share”.  Now that’s an accomplishment!