Highlighting Your Skills Using Resume Bullet Points
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated November 30, 2022 | Published October 18, 2021
Updated November 30, 2022
Published October 18, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Related: Resume Writing: 4 Tips on How to Write a Standout Resume
Holl explains how to choose the best type and format of resume for your application, and how to maximize the impact of your resume bullet points
Effectively using the space on your resume helps you present your skills and accomplishments professionally and keeps your writing concise. It makes it easier for the hiring manager to scan your resume and find relevant information about your experience. Using resume bullet points effectively can help your resume stand out and encourage hiring managers to shortlist you for the role. In this article, we offer strategies to help you capitalize on the effective use of resume bullet points.
Where and when to use resume bullet points
You can use resume bullet points to convey and highlight important information and make it easier for the hiring team to read. There are typically two goals when sending your resume to a prospective employer. They are for the hiring manager to read your resume and to share enough information that they send an interview invitation. You can use these in the following resume sections:
In the work history section of your resume, using bullet points under each job heading highlights your duties, responsibilities, and accomplishments. If you're unsure of which qualifications to list, review the job posting and list qualifications that most closely match the job. These tips may assist you in writing work history-related bullet points:
List work history in reverse chronological order
Write bullets that are specific to the role
Start bullets with descriptive action verbs
Bullet points work very well when you want to share your education or related and ongoing professional development. Include awards, recognitions, and scholarships to focus further on your accomplishments. Consider the following tips when writing education-related bullet points:
List credentials earned in reverse chronological order
Include information about theses, dissertations, and major projects, if applicable
Write the credential earned and the granting institution name in full
Bullet lists are appropriate when listing your skills and other accomplishments. Consider the following possibilities:
List soft skills such as client service, problem-solving, and managing remote teams
List technology skills, such as desktop applications and software
Include languages and proficiency in using them
Highlight accomplishments such as awards, scholarships, and other recognitions
Tips for writing resume bullet points
Consider these guidelines to help you create a professional resume:
Harness the potential of the bullet point: Using at least two and up to four bullet points effectively in each list helps to highlight your skills and accomplishments.
Introduce your bullet points: Using an opening sentence to introduce bullet points allows you to provide context about how they relate.
Tailor bullet points to the job: Matching the skills and accomplishments you want to highlight to those needed in the job you want is one of the most effective uses of bullet points and demonstrates your interest.
List the most relevant bullets first: Ordering bullet points by starting with your most relevant qualifications helps you to draw the hiring manager's attention.
Train yourself: Writing bullet points regularly using an action, context, and outcome model may improve your resume and communication skills. To do this, begin your bullet point with a descriptive action verb, then contextual words that describe your role, and end with an outcome that demonstrates your ability to succeed.
Use descriptive action verbs: Bullets written using an active voice and action verbs generate more reader interest. Using an action verb is the start of the action, context, and outcome model.
Focus on your role: Being creative and using contextual words that positively present your role can tell hiring managers about your capabilities. This is the second step in the action, context, and outcome model.
Highlight your success: Finish your action, context, and outcome bullet item by sharing a success or accomplishment you achieve regarding your role in performing the action.
Be honest: Ensuring that you describe your role truthfully, without embellishment, gives the hiring manager a sense of your integrity.
Highlight results and outcomes: Finishing each resume bullet point with a specific result, outcome, or accomplishment may further enhance your resume, as it showcases your ability to be successful.
Keep it simple: Bullet points are brief and usually contain only one key concept, while all bullet points in a list relate to the same theme.
Choose a consistent style: Formatting any document consistently and correctly demonstrates your attention to detail, so consider choosing a simple circle, square, or hyphen format and use it throughout the whole resume, as these styles appear correctly on most devices.
Punctuate correctly: Bullet points written as complete sentences use capitalization and punctuation, while those not written as complete sentences do not require end-of-bullet punctuation.
Proofread before sending: Consider using the editor feature of your word processing software or an online spelling and grammar checker to support your proofreading of the entire resume.
Benefits of using resume bullet points
Presenting yourself professionally through your resume is your opportunity to make a lasting impression on the hiring manager or recruiter. Choosing an easy-to-read font, selecting a format for bullet lists, and remaining consistent throughout your resume improves readability. Maximizing the use of bullet lists and other components of your resume helps make the qualifications you highlighted more visible. Context is helpful when writing effective bullet points, but they're more effective when they remain brief. Here is an example of how to provide context in a concise bullet point:
Before: Successfully closed and exited a line of business in men's sportswear because fashion trends were changing and sales low, including communicating with my team and other departments to notify them of the product change.
After: Successfully exited a line of business and replaced it with a new line expected to generate additional revenue. Developed a multi-departmental communication strategy regarding the product change.
The revised wording addresses a typical business challenge that is also a transferable skill. For example, it describes a situation when you led the exit of a product line effectively. It also highlights a second important activity you performed, another in-demand and transferable skill, implementing an effective multi-departmental communication strategy.
Action verbs in context
Using action verbs in the past tense at the beginning of each bullet point in the context of your specific role plus one outcome helps maintain your reader's interest. It presents your abilities in a positive manner. Selecting action words that best describe your role help convey why it was an important activity. Consider including a positive outcome to highlight your accomplishments and the value of your contribution to your previous workplaces.
Being creative and using action verbs and other words demonstrate the importance of your accomplishments. Support this further by avoiding generic and general words, such as:
Instead, you may wish to use descriptive action verbs such as:
Examples of effective resume bullet points
Here are some examples of how to turn your skills and experiences into compelling descriptions within single bullet points to impress hiring managers:
For describing data entry experience:
Before: Handled data entry.
After: Entered annual survey data accurately into a spreadsheet paying close attention to detail.
When describing your mentorship experience:
Before: Mentored staff.
After: Mentored six new team members and supported them through their onboarding until they could work independently.
When describing website development, coding, and web management experience:
Before: Maintained the organization's website.
After: Maintained and updated the organization's website using HTML and CSS while adhering to standards in the style guide.
When highlighting counselling, crisis management, and communication skills:
Before: Responsible for answering phone calls at a crisis hotline.
After: Provided crisis counselling and emotional support by phone to youth overcome by stress and other mental health conditions, referring them to the appropriate agency for further assistance.
When discussing your leadership and administrative experience:
Before: Performed administrative duties.
After: Coordinated a front office for a 25-person team and performed supportive administrative duties.
When featuring leadership, organization, and client relation abilities:
Before: Expanded my team to accommodate greater client need.
After: Planned and opened a new, expanded contact centre and onboarded additional staff to meet client demand and improve client satisfaction by 30%.
When describing IT and communication skills:
Before: Oversaw the implementation of a new telephone system.
After: Led a team of four IT staff to prepare strategies for communication and implementation of a phone system for 100 employees, including both hands-on and online familiarization training for staff.
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