Thoughts on accomplishments v. duties on resume?

How do you like to put detail for positions on your resume?

Do you like to describe the position’s duties, or list your accomplishments in those positions, or some mix of the two?

Duties first and then things I accomplished in the completion of those duties.

About 5 duties or responsibilities, and 2 achievements (rule of seven).

^ kind of this. I structure mine as:

Current position and tenure
1-2 major accomplishments while in that position
5-6 major duties of the position

Previous position and tenure
1-2 major accomplishments while in that position
5-6 major duties of the position


In my opinion you should expect 60 seconds to be the longest anyone spends reading your resume. Make your first bullet a quantifiable achievement and if you work in a field with a lot of keywords (I work in software development) make sure the keywords people look for are sprinkled in appropriately.

I spend more time optimizing the professional summary at the top of my resume because I figure nobody will read any of my individual professional experiences beyond the name of the employer, job title and maybe how long I was there.

That sounds really helpful, Fuzzy Dunlop - I’ve kept a short summary at the top, mostly because I’m worried no one will read the bullet points. I’ve lately grown less interested in listing duties, hoping that people will just figure it out from the job title, but I’m not sure that’s helpful either.

The rule of seven sounds nice, but seven bullet points is a heck of a lot. If you have, say three, would you split them 1 v 2 in favor of accomplishments? That’s my initial inclination.

It’s the top half of the first page that persuades people to read on. Looking at my own CV, I have a career key achievements section and a career key skills section before starting on my employment history. The key skills section contains the buzzword-bingo elements. My first employment goes the full 5+2 route and earlier entries range from 3+1 to 7+3 on the second page when I know they’re interested.

I’m not an HR person, but I’ve hired quite a few people over the years. I tend to discount stated achievements, as they are a little too easy to inflate. (For example, an applicant may state that they “increased program participation by 50%” when the company actually grew in size by 100% due to factors totally outside the applicant’s area of responsibility.) I would rather ask the applicant during the interview, “What achievements are you proudest of?” and then discuss them in detail. I also didn’t care that the applicant was responsible for maintaining 30 servers if the company had 1200 and the 30 servers were all identically configured.

It sounds like that’s both discounting achievements and duties in the resume - so is the resume useful at all? Do resumes factor into your choices of who to interview? And if they do, what do you look for in them?

In hiring processes I’ve been involved with, I feel like it’s most important to get a feel for how many years in what field at what institution, but I’m having trouble recalling what I placed value on, if anything, in the bullets underneath the position. But then I haven’t been involved in a hiring process for about three years, so it’s hard to remember what I thought was important at the time.