Your resume is the key part of your job application. Using bullet points can make your resume easier to read and also help focus the hiring manager’s attention to what makes you stand out.
There are lots of tips and strategies for how to write a resume or how to write a cover letter to go with. But in this post, we are focusing specifically on bullet points and how to best use them in your resume.
Should you use bullet points for your resume?
Bullet points can be a very efficient tool to use when making your resume. They are a great way to highlight what you want the hiring manager to notice first and what may make you stand out among other applicants.
When can you use resume bullet points?
Bullet points are suitable for all resume types — but you can use them to highlight different aspects of your application.
In a chronological resume, you can use bullet points to organize your work experience or to go into detail about your responsibilities in each position.
In a functional resume, bullet points are a great way to highlight your most relevant and valued skills.
In a combination resume, on the other hand, you can use bullet points in any or both of these sections. The main idea here is that the section of your resume where you choose to use bullet points should showcase to your potential employer why you are more qualified for the position than other applicants.
Learn about different resume formats in Top Resume Formats: Tips and Examples of 3 Common Resumes.
How to use bullet points in your resume?
As we’ve mentioned above, there are lots of ways to use bullet points in your resume. Here are just a few options for enhancing your resume with bullet points:
- You can use bullet points to list your work experience. In this section, you should include all your relevant work experience in reverse chronological order. Mention the company you worked for, the position you held there and the time period during which you were employed.
- You can use bullet points to go into more detail about the responsibilities you held in previous positions. This can be a good idea if you want to demonstrate to your employer how you were able to handle specific situations and highlight professional achievements. In this case, list your responsibilities or accomplishments under each job you held previously. In this case, it is advised to include from three to six bullet points per position in your work experience section and make each bullet point just one or two lines.
- Bullet points are a great way to introduce your skillset. You can list specific skills that are most relevant to the job you are applying for. Make sure to mention areas where you have the most expertise and be as specific as possible when describing your professional abilities. A good strategy here would be to take another look at the job ad you are responding to and pick out relevant keywords that you can then use in your resume.
You can also use bullet points to write about your education (if you have a number of degrees), certification and more.
Tips for writing good resume bullet points
To make sure your resume bullet points achieve their goals, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Your resume bullet points highlight key information that you want the hiring manager to focus their attention on.
- They must be relevant to the job you are applying for and, if possible, include relevant keywords from the job ad.
- The contents of your bullet points should be brief and specific.
- The information you present in the bullet points should be listed in the order of importance.
- It’s best if your resume bullet points include action verbs, numbers, keywords and other specific data.
Let’s unpack this a bit.
Resume bullet points should highlight key information
We’ve touched upon this a few times already — but it’s very important that you use your bullet points wisely. When used correctly, bullet points are a powerful tool that will direct the attention of the hiring manager to exactly what you want them to see. Because of this, it is important that you think carefully about what information you should include and not overuse bullet points throughout your resume. The main question you should ask yourself when selecting what information to include in your bullet points is this: “What makes me a better candidate for this job than other applicants?”.
Resume bullet points must be relevant to the job you are applying for
You may have lots of experience and a rich skill set that you want to share with your potential employer. However, most hiring managers recommend keeping your resume to just one page (two pages tops if you are a highly experienced professional). This means that what you include in the bullet points in your resume should be what’s most relevant to the job you are now applying for. In fact, you may need to alter your bullet point selection depending on the position you are applying for.
Resume bullet points should be brief and specific
As we’ve just said, your resume shouldn’t be over a page long. This leaves very limited space for what’s in your bullet points. Make sure to keep them brief and be as specific as you can be. This means that you should focus on numbers and other concrete data.
List your resume bullet points in the order of importance
HR managers tend to be very busy people. This means that there is a chance they may not go over the entirety of your resume — especially if your application doesn’t stand out from the start. In any case, it is always best to put your best foot forward and make sure your first few bullet points catch the attention of the one going over your resume. Use the first two entries to mention your most valued skills, most relevant experience, highest education degree or certificate, etc.
Include action verbs and keywords in your resume bullet points
As we’ve mentioned above, you should try to make the information you include in your bullet points as specific as possible. When you write about your accomplishments, use facts, numbers and reference concrete skills and accomplishments. Bullet points are not a good place for general information or skills and expertise that might take too long to explain.
Add numbers to your resume bullet points
When talking about work achievements and results, make sure to be as specific as you can be and include measurable data — numbers. When talking about your sales accomplishments, say by how much you were able to increase company revenue. When explaining your work as a social media manager, include improvements in conversion rates — and so on.
Success verbs for your resume
When talking about your experience, you will need to use quite a few verbs. Using words like “worked”, “did” or “was responsible for” is absolutely fine, but it can get quite repetitive and boring. If you want to make your resume more interesting to read, consider adding a few more action verbs to your vocabulary.
Action verbs, as the name suggests, are verbs that express action. You can use these verbs to describe your skills, work experience, accomplishments and more. Using powerful verbs is another way to better highlight your credentials and keep your application effective and concise.
Here are just a few examples of interesting action verbs.
Action verbs to talk about your responsibilities
Accomplish: “accomplished all assigned sales goals”
Assemble: “assembled a team of creative professionals”
Forge: “forged new relationships with partners”
Build: “built a solid client base”
Coordinate: “coordinated the development of key projects”
Expand: “expanded company portfolio”
Guide: “guided my team through department overhaul”
Deliver: “delivered top sales numbers”
Volunteer: “volunteered to train new employees”
Some other verbs fit for this section: analyze, accelerate, chart, create, construct, develop, execute, finalize, handle, head, initiate, increase, produce, organize and others.
Action verbs to highlight your accomplishments
Attain: “attained all project goals”
Consolidate: “consolidated business activities at a new branch”
Exceed: “exceeded set sales goals”
Pioneer: “pioneered a new marketing campaign”
Overhaul: “initiated the overhaul of sales practices”
Strengthen: “strengthened the company’s financial situation”
Some other verbs fit for this section: achieve, capitalize, discern, enact, endeavor, outperform, sharpen, spearhead, supervise and more.
There are also action verbs you can use to talk about specific skill areas.
Communication skills: brief, campaign, collaborate, compose, convince, instruct, present, promote, deliver and others.
Creative skills: author, brainstorm, compose, conceptualize, design, illustrate, inspire, storyboard, translate, visualize and more.
Sales skills: acquire, boost, convert, earn, gain, generate, maximize, win, yield and more.
Summing things up
There are lots of practices for making your resume better. Taking the time to research how to best structure your resume is definitely time well spent and can have a significant impact on the success of your application. Bullet points can be one of the most effective tools in highlighting key elements of your resume — and we hope the above guide has been helpful. Learn about writing a good resume in our guide on Writing a Resume With No Experience.