Education Career Services

August 24, 2009

Résumé, Accomplishments Vs. Duty Statements

Question and AnswerA few weeks ago a question of interest was posted and the following is my opinion.  No doubt several individuals will differ from my opinion but it may be a good forum to throw ideas back and forth.  Let’s take a look at the question, details, and my response:

Question: “More duty statements and less accomplishments or more accomplishments and less duty statements on a résumé?”

Details: What are recruiters, HR, and hiring managers looking for? Is there a difference between roles? I’m seeing a lot of résumé that look more like grocery lists with little if no accomplishments. Is it important to list every duty a person has performed?

It’s all about value and developing a sense of trust in the candidates ability to get the job done. Being a professional writer and career coach, I encourage students as well as seasoned executives to focus on accomplishments in a STAR method. STAR= Situation, Task, Action, and Result.

In other words, your marketing material (portfolio, including your resume and cover letter) must depict a story in which the reader can identify with. This story varies from position to position, from industry to industry, and from person to person. Overall, not an easy task to accomplish but you don’t have to take the road alone.  If you are a current student, take portfolio and professional development classes and always work with your career services department. For the executive, there are great services out there to help you or to do all the work.

As a professor, I often explained to students that simply “claiming” to be the very best by way of duty statements is nice but, without support, this claim will not mean a thing for the reader. In other words, one must provide a balance (leaning toward metric-based proof) between a claim to be the right candidate and the proof (or support) of the claim.

To bring this to a conclusion, a list of duties is useless without proof.  Unfortunately, HR, recruiters, and hiring managers often look for different elements. HR and recruiters are more prone to like a list of duties in a chronological format whereas hiring managers are more interested in the immediate value you will bring to a particular position. For the hiring manager, metric based is the way to go and the format recommended by the top three career management associations in the US is semi-functional; NOT chronological (but format is a whole new subject and not for now).

Ask any professional writer, writing a resume is much like writing poetry (perhaps this is the reason why an excellent resume writer charges up to $2,000 a pop–and well worth it). When developing your marketing material, as in poetry, each word is included for a specific and relevant reason.  Each claim and each accomplishment must also be scrutinized for it’s purpose, value, and semantic meaning.

In the end remember a resume is not the tool which will land you the job…a resume lands you an interview. For students, partner with your career services department for additional support and their lending hand. For a seasoned executive, don’t go about writing alone and partner with a company you can trust.  Together, prioritize your value to match the position, company, and requirements and you will find success. On this note, if you would like a quick review or assistance in any way, let me know…it is what I do.

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
Education Career Services:
Career Services International:



  1. Great stuff; keep it up! Hope our career services department is taking notes!

    Comment by Jake — August 25, 2009 @ 6:07 am

  2. Jake,
    I work with career directors across the US, our material is used on many campuses (classes and libraries); hopefully your campus is one of them.

    Comment by careersi — August 25, 2009 @ 5:27 pm

  3. good question to ask. and you provided great insights too. thanks

    Comment by Job Opening — September 3, 2009 @ 5:52 am

  4. I don’t know If I said it already but …I’m so glad I found this site…Keep up the good work I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..


    Comment by Bill Bartmann — September 22, 2009 @ 10:01 pm

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