What is the difference between responsibilities and achievements?

Executive Brand

I see a lot of CVs and resumes where the client has copied and pasted their responsibilities.  While this might help to outline your responsibilities (i.e. what you should be doing), it doesn’t show what you actually did, and what you achieved to make you stand out from the others.

Responsibilities and achievements are two important elements that should be included in a resume or CV to showcase a candidate’s qualifications and experiences. Both elements provide the employer with a comprehensive understanding of the candidate’s background, but they differ in their purpose and focus.


Responsibilities refer to the duties and tasks that an individual was assigned to perform in a particular job. These describe what the person was accountable for and what they were expected to do in the role. For example, a salesperson’s responsibilities might include “Developing and implementing sales strategies,” “Managing customer relationships” or “Achieving sales targets.”


On the other hand, achievements refer to the results or outcomes that were accomplished as a result of fulfilling those responsibilities. Achievements are quantifiable and demonstrate the impact that the individual had on their role, company or industry. For example, a salesperson’s achievements might include “Increased sales revenue by 20% in one year,” “Developed and maintained a portfolio of 50 high-value customers” or “Won the company’s salesperson of the year award.”

Including achievements in a resume or CV is crucial because they demonstrate the candidate’s ability to not only fulfil their responsibilities, but also make a tangible impact in their role. Achievements help to distinguish the candidate from other applicants by highlighting their accomplishments and the results they have delivered. They provide evidence of the candidate’s skills, abilities, and successes, and give the employer a clear picture of what they are capable of.

No achievements?

But what if a candidate doesn’t have any achievements to showcase? If this is the case, there are still several steps that can be taken to create a more impactful and compelling resume or CV. These include reframing responsibilities, focusing on transferable skills, highlighting personal projects, and creating achievements through coursework:

  1. Reframe your responsibilities: If you don’t have any concrete achievements, you can still highlight your responsibilities in a way that demonstrates your abilities and impact. For example, instead of simply listing your job duties, you can emphasize the results you helped to achieve, such as “Managed a team of 5 employees, resulting in a 15% increase in productivity.”
  2. Focus on your transferable skills: If you don’t have any job-specific achievements, you can focus on showcasing your transferable skills and the impact you made in non-professional settings. For example, you could highlight your leadership skills by discussing a volunteer project you led, or your teamwork skills by discussing a group project you completed.
  3. Highlight personal projects: If you are a recent graduate or just starting your career, you may not have much professional experience to draw from. In this case, you can showcase your abilities by highlighting personal projects, such as a blog you started, a side business you launched or a non-profit you founded.
  4. Create achievements through coursework: If you are a student or recent graduate, you can highlight your academic achievements and coursework that demonstrate your knowledge and skills. For example, you could discuss a research project you completed, a presentation you gave or a paper you published.


In conclusion, both responsibilities and achievements are important in a resume or CV as they provide the employer with a comprehensive understanding of the candidate’s qualifications and experiences. Responsibilities outline what an individual was expected to do, while achievements highlight what they actually accomplished and the impact they made in their role. Even if a candidate doesn’t have specific achievements, they can still create a strong and compelling document by highlighting their responsibilities, transferable skills, personal projects and coursework.