Bullet points are one of the most common ways of organizing important information on a resume. In fact, they have become so universal at this point that they are essentially considered mandatory, and many hiring managers may consider neglecting to include them as incorrect formatting.
It is not difficult to create convincing resume bullet points, but you do need to know the most effective writing techniques. The following writing guide can help you create the strongest bullet points possible for your resume. This may allow you to catch the attention of employers and greatly improve your chances of getting called back for an interview.
How To Write Resume Bullet Points
When it comes to composing bullet points in your resume, the key is to write actively. The verbs you choose are vital to creating bullet points that are effective and strong. First of all, it is easy to accidentally use words that are not really verbs at all. The most common word when making this mistake is “responsible,” which is not a verb at all. A resume writer may have a bullet point such as this one:
• Responsible for improving service representatives’ sales numbers
This bullet point does include a good action verb, but it does not focus on the verb. The word “improve” should be the first word in this bullet point. Delaying where it is in the sentence greatly weakens the effect of the bullet point. Take a look at how much stronger it is with the simple change of removing the first few words:
• Improved service representatives’ sales numbers
While it is important that you always emphasize the verb in every one of your bullet points, remember that not all verbs are equally as strong. The best kinds of verb you can use are action verbs. Words such as “produced,” “administered,” “advanced,” “boosted,” “maximized,” “integrated,” and “streamlined” are more interesting than simple words like “led” or “handled.”
Hiring managers read a lot of resumes on a daily basis. With the sheer number of resumes they read, they see the same weak verbs used over and over. In many cases, there is not anything wrong with these words inherently, but the fact that they are so overused makes them less effective. When writing your resume bullet points, try to get a little creative and use unique verbs that stand out and catch readers’ attention.
For a better idea of how to format the bullet points in your resume, check out this example work history section:
Assistant Manager, Toyland Collectibles, 2012-2016
• Oversaw team of 6 sales assistants, arranging work schedules and assigning tasks
• Resolved customer complaints quickly and efficiently
• Opened the shop 3 mornings and closed 2 nights weekly
5 Resume Bullet Points Must Haves
1. Always begin with a strong action verb
As discussed above, action verbs are a vital part of writing bullet points on your resume. Remember that just using a strong action verb is not good enough. Hiring managers expect the verb to be the very first word in every bullet point. This also is the best writing practice for you, making your resume as strong as possible.
2. Make your bullet points meaty and dense
The best bullet points in the work experience section are those that are long. If a point is only a few words long, not only is it not as effective, it many actually hurt you. Short, shallow bullet points can look bad to readers. You should be aiming for bullet points that are nearly a whole line long, or even as much as two lines occasionally. Consider how dense with information your bullet points are in addition to their length. It is possible to write long phrases that do not actually mean much.
3. Include the appropriate number of bullet points
Too many bullet points or not enough can be a detriment to your resume as well. Each section requires a different number, and you should try to meet these expectations carefully. The experience section should have five to eight for each position, the skills section should have about eight bullet points, and the summary section can either be a paragraph or three bullet points. The education section should not have any bullets.
4. Know the purpose of your bullet points and make sure you fulfill that purpose
This writing guide mostly focuses on experience section bullet points because these are the most complex and the most important. They should be long and begin with strong action verbs. Bullet points in your skills section, however, should be short and use adjectives and nouns to describe your abilities. They may look like this:
• Leadership skills
• Excellent communication
• Critical thinking
5. Make sure your bullet points are always relevant
Simply put, if your bullet points do not relate to the position you are applying for, you might as well not include them. Think carefully about what hiring managers expect of whoever they hire and then figure out how to demonstrate you are capable of fulfilling those expectations.
The Top Resume Bullet Points Takeaways
If you follow the techniques and strategies found in this writing guide, you can easily create the best resume bullet points possible for your job application. In the work experience section, make sure you understand how to effectively implement action verbs and always use them at the beginning of every point. Take the time to develop your bullet points and make them long, dense, and well-written.
Finally, think carefully about what hiring managers are most likely looking for so you can meet their expectations exactly. These are the methods to produce the kinds of resumes and bullet points that stand out from the crowd and get candidates hired.