How to Write Effective Bullet Points for Your Resume
Of the 250 resumes received on average for each job opening, only 4-6 will garner an interview. This means that 98 percent of applicants are rejected based on their resumes alone.
These odds may seem daunting, but I’m not trying to scare you. Rather, I only want to demonstrate the importance of writing a resume that stands out. Improving your resume can make a world of difference for your job search.
Defining a ‘Stand-Out Resume’
Many people take this concept too literally. They end up using pretty graphics, splashy designs, and colorful templates, thinking this will stand out and grab a recruiter’s attention. I’ve personally worked with dozens of recruiters at top companies, and let me tell you — recruiters hate these kinds of resumes!
Recruiters are substance over style kind of people. What they really care about are your bullet points. Each and every line must be informative and engaging. Each bullet should further contribute to an employer’s desire to hire you. This is what we call an “effective” bullet point.
Effective Vs. Ineffective Bullet Points
Let’s start with an example of a bullet point that is ineffective:
Responsible for the coordinated management of multiple related projects directed toward strategic business and other organizational objectives
This is the kind of bullet that many job seekers would use to describe project management experience. Can you identify why it’s an ineffective bullet?
The main problem is that it focuses on the applicant’s responsibilities instead of their accomplishments. A line like this is more appropriate for a job description than a resume!
On your resume, it’s your job to show recruiters the impact you’ve had at your previous companies. You can do this by writing accomplishment-oriented bullet points.
Here is an example of a significantly more effective bullet point to showcase project management experience:
Managed a process-reengineering project to improve and consolidate end-to-end service processes; restructured communication flow among 10 departments and cut down paperwork by 75 percent
Notice the difference? This bullet point demonstrates the applicant’s accomplishments by using:
1. Action words like “managed” and “restructured,” which demonstrate what the candidate actually did rather than what they were responsible for.
2. Numbers to quantify results — e.g. “cut down paperwork by 75 percent.” Quantifying your results makes them a whole lot more meaningful, since they show employers how work you’ve done has concretely impacted the company.
How to Quantify Accomplishments Even When You Don’t Have Access to Hard Numbers
Employers love to see achievements that directly contribute to the company’s bottom line. Thus, quantifying your impact in dollars will be most impressive to employers.
However, not all of us work in sales or finance roles where our performance can be easily converted into dollar figures. What should you do in that case?
Use any metric that is relevant to your job, and then make an educated estimate to convert that metric into dollars. For example, improvements you made to a process may have cut the process’s time by 20 hours a week. Twenty hours is equivalent to half of one full-time employee’s workweek, so you can convert your time savings into an estimated financial impact of half the average full-time employee’s salary — say, $30,000 a year.
There are a ton of other metrics you can use to quantify your results, too! How many people or departments did you work with? Did a change you made result in fewer customer support queries? You can even quantify your achievements based on the size of a project you ran or the time you saved your team on a weekly basis.
Your job title tells recruiters and hiring managers all they need to know about your responsibilities. Instead of repeating yourself, showcase your results by writing quantified, accomplishment-oriented bullets. This is the single most effective way to stand out from competitors and be one of the 2 percent of applicants who get an interview.
Rohan Mahtani is the founder of Resume Worded.