How To Show Responsibility And Initiative On Your Resume

Employers are looking for responsibility and initiative. Does your resume show that?

Getting a job and turning it into a career is one of the key goals of most Americans of working age. And with over 6.3 million people currently unemployed, it’s an understandable and laudable aim. One main piece of advice that everyone from career coaches to moms and dads will often give goes along the lines of: “Demonstrate some responsibility, and show some initiative!” The trouble is that this is easier said than done – especially when it comes to getting it down on to an on-paper resume. 

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Take a job – any job

The latest unemployment figures out of the US government show that and estimated 4% of the workforce is out of a job. Often, and despite what media narratives might tell you, this isn’t all down to fecklessness or laziness. It’s in fact often because candidates aren’t able to prove that they have the skills they say they do. That’s where experience comes in – and it’s all about transferable skills. For example, you might be applying for a role as a trainee bank manager.  You may think that your gig at a fast food joint doesn’t have any relevance to this career, but it does. It in fact shows a number of transferable skills which are relevant to both industries – including basic arithmetic and cash flow management skills, resilience, customer service and more.

Go above and beyond

In a crowded employment market in which it sometimes appears that everybody is looking for work, there’s sadly no guarantee that you’ll be able to find it even if you’re well qualified. That’s where standing head and shoulders above the crowd by voluntarily taking on responsibility can come in. Say you have a local dog shelter nearby, and they require someone to walk four dogs at once a few times per week. Holding on to two leashes in each hand and preventing dangerous darts into the road is one of many ways to show self-reliance. This sort of voluntary role may not pay well or indeed at all in the short term, but it could pay off in the long term.

Polish your resume 

Sometimes, though, the issue isn’t one of lacking the relevant experience – it’s one of bad communication on your resume. If your resume isn’t very detailed (or, indeed, too detailed), it might not be getting across the message that you’re a determined, responsible and initiative-taking individual. It’s advisable  list jobs by relevancy and recency. If you feel like ordering, writing or polishing your resume isn’t one of your skills, working with a professional resume writer who can advise on the best ways to get from unemployed to hired is a good move. 

Getting a job is not always easy, but in today’s economy it can seem even harder to achieve your career goals. Fortunately, there is a way. By getting hold of some responsibility and initiative and ensuring that you communicate it properly on your resume, you can make sure you’re one of the millions of Americans in work.

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Guest Blogger: Lucy Wyndham is a professional freelance writer, editor, and lucy wyndhammother of two, who decided to take a step back and work from home after spending a decade working in the finance and health industries. You can reach out to Lucy at

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