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How to write resume bullet points that stand out

Matt Glodz
How to write resume bullet points that stand out

A basic resume template for crafting powerful bullet points

When preparing your resume, you need to make sure that readers can easily skim your document and pick up key information.

The easiest way to achieve this goal is by outlining each of your work experiences using bullet points.

One of the biggest mistakes people make on their resumes, however, is simply listing the tasks they were responsible for without explaining their accomplishments.

To truly differentiate yourself from applicants with similar backgrounds, you need to go above and beyond the basics.

In this article, we discuss how to craft bullet points that not only describe what you did on a day-to-day basis but also demonstrate the tangible value you bring to an organization.

By structuring your resume’s bullet points as described below, you'll be able to convey your skills and abilities in a much more effective - and believable - way.

As a result, you’ll stand out from other applicants and increase your chances of landing interviews.

Types of bullet points and the ideal amount

On your resume, you want to include a combination of achievement-based and task-based bullet points.

Task-based bullet points

Task-based bullet points describe your skills and what you were mainly responsible for in your position.

Achievement-based bullet points

Achievement-based bullet points, on the other hand, provide concrete examples of the impact you made on the organization you were a part of.

We recommend incorporating as many achievement-based bullet points into your resume as possible, as this structure is the most effective way to truly convey your skills and initiative.

You’ll likely need a few task-based bullet points as well, as they help readers understand the primary function of your role.

Ideal number of bullet points

You should aim to have anywhere from 3-6 bullet points for each position.

Your most recent positions will likely contain the most information, while you may want to stick to the key points for some of your earlier experiences.

The recipe for achievement-based bullet points

Achievement-based bullet points are made up of three components:

1) Main point

2) Example

3) Explanation

By weaving these three components together, you will end up with powerful content that is more convincing and engaging to read.

Keep this simple formula in mind as you continue reading:

Main Point + Example + Explanation

Main Point

Your main points are the things you did day-to-day.

Main points can include tasks like:

  • Recruiting and interviewing candidates
  • Making sales calls
  • Writing consulting reports
  • Analyzing profit and loss statements
  • Assisting customers

Example

Your examples take your main point one step further to make them more specific.

In other words, how were the day-to-day tasks you identified specific to your role within the company?

  • Recruiting and interviewing candidates for entry-level analyst roles
  • Making sales calls to current and potential high-net-worth clients
  • Writing consulting reports analyzing the market suitability for new hotels
  • Analyzing profit and loss statements for the beverage division on a weekly, monthly, and annual basis
  • Assisting customers to determine the right product for them

Explanation/Elaboration

Your explanation, or elaboration, ties what you were doing into its impact on the company.

What was the purpose of what you were doing?

If a recruiter were to read your bullet point, you want this portion to answer the "so what?" question for them.

  • Recruiting and interviewing candidates for entry-level analyst roles, helping expand the department by 20%
  • Making sales calls to current and potential high-net-worth clients, consistently exceeding sales goals by 15%
  • Writing consulting reports analyzing the market suitability for new hotels resulting in five new properties being added to the company's property portfolio
  • Analyzing profit and loss statements for the beverage division on a weekly, monthly, and annual basis to identify any discrepancies, ensure accurate reporting, and determine areas for improvement
  • Assisting customers to determine the right product for them, increasing customer loyalty and satisfaction scores from 7.5 to 9.6 over a six-month period

Questions to ask yourself when you hit writer’s block

If you’re starting to write your resume and feel stuck, start by simply making a list of your day-to-day responsibilities.

Then, start asking yourself questions such as the following to help you identify where you can add additional information.

  • How many people were you managing? In what context?
  • What kinds of analyses did you conduct? How did the company use them?
  • How much were you able to sell?
  • By how much did you exceed sales targets or performance goals?
  • Were you able to automate or make any work processes more efficient? How much time did they save?
  • What specific strategies or tools did you use to help you meet your goals?
  • Did you prepare any sort of written materials? What kind? Operations manuals? Guides to best practices? Training tools?
  • Did you collaborate with any other internal or external departments? How? What resulted from these collaborations?
  • In the greater context of your company, how was your work adding value? What decisions did you help drive?
  • Did you organize meetings or events? How many? How often?
  • Did you represent the company at any external meetings or conferences? At which ones?
  • Were you responsible for creating budgets, forecasts, or other types of financial analyses? How accurate were they? How large of a budget were you managing?
  • Were you using any industry-specific tools or software programs? To do what?

Need assistance putting together your resume or cover letter?

Call us at (312) 428-6048 or book a free phone consultation here!


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About the AuthorMatt Glodz


Matt Glodz is the Founder and Managing Partner of Resume Pilots and a Certified Professional Resume Writer.

After studying business communication at Cornell University, Matt worked within Fortune 500 companies, where he observed what drove the decision making of recruiters and hiring managers first-hand, noting that qualified candidates were frequently denied interview opportunities due to poorly written documents.

At Resume Pilots, Matt combines his solid business and writing background - which includes prior work for a Chicago Tribune publication - to craft resumes that give his clients the best chance of landing interviews. He currently works with applicants ranging from CEOs to recent graduates and has been writing resumes for over eight years.


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