How to Use Resume Bullet Points

Don’t slay your reader with too many bullet points. By Lisa Vaas 090304resumemagnify3

Solid, unbroken chunks of text are daunting to read in any format. So the best advice for those writing their own resume has always been to lighten the task by describing their work experience in sharp bulleted sentences instead of paragraphs.

But be careful not to slay the reader with too many of these graphic daggers. Professional resume writers caution their clients to use bullet points in moderation.

Andrew Pearl, a certified professional resume writer who works with Ladders recently overhauled a resume that was drunk on bullet points – three pages of them to be exact.

“[The] original resume was all bullets, and the all-bulleted approach is difficult to navigate,” Pearl said.

Pearl transformed the all-bullet resume by alternating brief informative paragraphs of text with bulleted lists that highlight specific achievements.

In this particular case, the resume, which described a senior-level technologist, now uses a bulleted list to highlight, among other things, the specific total dollar amount in savings the job seeker achieved by implementing a centralized server farm to house an accounting package. The paragraph that precedes this bulleted list incorporates powerful words that speak to leadership and strategy as well as keywords that are relevant in the candidate’s field, including infrastructure, architecture, user support, training, project management, and system development.

“By creating a document with a clear organizational structure, we have built something that clearly demonstrates value,” Pearl said. “Decision makers don’t have time to hunt for the important details. The new document has a clear road map to what is most tangible. By being selective about what we highlight, we create a document that speaks at a higher level.”

Another thing to keep in mind about bulleted lists: When stacking bullet points, “Put the brightest ones on top,” said Steve Burdan, also a certified professional resume writer who works with Ladders.

Lisa Vaas covers resume writing techniques and the technology behind the job search for Ladders.

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