In general, resumes need to be brief and use strong language to convey significance and skill. Experts recommend one resume page for every 5-10 years of work experience, which means you need to get to the point quickly while not selling yourself short. Fortunately, bullet points exist. They can communicate important information quickly and are a great way to sum up your work history.
Adding bullet points underneath a job is pretty standard in resume writing to communicate information concisely. This means hiring managers can scan through them quickly and move the interviewing process along more efficiently.
With bullet points though, you can have too few and you can also have too many. Organizing work experience through bullet points is a balancing act—luckily one that isn’t too hard to master.
Having three to five bullet points per job is ideal to both convey a prior job’s duties and keep your resume looking clean. With limited space available to expand on each job, be mindful about the words and phrases you use. They need to pack a punch.
There are a few grammar tips you can use to help give your words more weight. Active voice is always preferred, and bullet points should feature strong, actionable verbs. With the right language, you can stretch three-to-five bullet points further than you probably think.
In case you need a quick refresher on active versus passive voice, we’ve got your back.
Active voice is when the sentence’s subject performs the action. Active voice cuts out fluff, giving you more space to work with.
An example of active voice is “I managed 10 employees.” In the sentence, you are the subject and “managing” is the action being performed.
Alternately, passive voice is when the verb acts on the subject. In passive voice, the above sentence turns into “Ten employees were managed by me.”
When the sentence is written using active voice, it is four words. Using passive voice, the sentence climbs to six words. Active voice doesn’t only cut down on space; it makes communication clear and also implies ownership over your previous roles and job duties.
Just as important as using active voice are the verbs you choose to power your sentences. You can say you reorganized a department, or you can say you overhauled a department. Which verb stands out most? Here’s where some light thesaurus work can boost your bullet points.
There are multiple areas on your resume where you can strategically structure bullet points—“strategic” being the key word. Not all bullet points are created equal, so know where to put your effort.
The most important section is your work experience, or the resume’s meat. Other areas bullet points can enhance include the “education” and “skills” sections.
Hiring managers look at resumes like a puzzle. They want to know which pieces fit the open position, so—like a good puzzle enthusiast—they scan for anything that could fit. In this situation, those clues are held within bullet points and keywords—anything that can fit snugly with the job’s description and duties.
Let’s say you have your sights set on a nonprofit executive director role and are using experience as a chief operating officer to campaign for the opportunity. In this situation, your bullet points would like something like this:
Any experience that mirrors the job description and duties goes into the bullet points under “work experience.” If you’re having trouble cutting down on bullet points, compare those points to the job listing. Which bullet points match the role best? (Again, think of puzzle pieces.)
Order the bullet points based on which ones best fit the opportunity. Use up to five and save the rest in your Resume Builder that stores your work history.
In any type of competition, you need to know how to stand out. Job candidates that best do this are the ones that utilize multiple resumes and adjust each one for the job they are pursuing. With jobs becoming more specialized and competition surrounding you, having multiple resume templates tailored to different skills or industries is an efficient way to paint yourself as the perfect candidate.
The best way to organize this information is to have a few resume templates stored. Depending on the job, your bullet points (and even work history) won’t always stay in the same order. This is another area where Teal can help. The app’s resume customization feature helps you select skills and achievements that are best suited for the job you are applying for.
Building a winning resume involves strategic planning and knowing your experience and skills well. But it doesn’t have to be difficult, and properly leveraging bullet points to sum up your work history can help your resume really stand out.