The average recruiter or hiring manager spends only seconds looking over an applicant’s resume. To get the interview, you need to make your experience stand out—and fast. Knowing how to effectively employ bullet points in a resume can quickly and easily show an employer that you're a good fit for the job.
When to Use Bullet Points on a Resume
Bullets allow you to highlight your most relevant accomplishments and separate your job duties, skills, and achievements as separate points—but they're not appropriate for every type of resume. There are three main types of resumes:
- Chronological resumes, the most common of the three varieties, list your work experiences in reverse chronological order and provide concise summaries of each role.
- Functional resumes emphasize skills and achievements in a non-linear format, so they are often more verbose than chronological resumes.
- Combination resumes are usually divided into two sections: one that focuses on skills and achievements and another that details work experiences in reverse chronological order.
As bulleted list items serve as concise nuggets of information, they're best suited for chronological resumes and the work history section of a combination resume. While bullet points aren't forbidden in functional resumes, they're less suitable because these resumes are often compiled in paragraph form to de-emphasize potential gaps in work history.
Where to Use Bullet Points in a Resume
The most common sections to insert bulleted items include:
- Qualifications summary: This summary statement at the top of the resume should list the main qualifications and qualities you possess that align with the requirements in the job listing. List your skills and accomplishments as bullet points below the section heading.
- Work experience: For any past jobs you list on a chronological or combination resume, convey the duties and accomplishments that relate to the job in bullet points below the relevant job heading. If you're not sure which skills and achievements are most important, review the job listing and use bullet points on a resume to emphasize the qualifications you have that match the job.
- Education: Bullet points aren't just for work history. You can also include bullet points in a resume to describe your achievements in educational experiences. For example, under the heading for your educational experience, you can list bullets for the awards, scholarships, and other kudos that relate to a degree you earned.
- Volunteering: Be sure to include any service-oriented duties and accomplishments below the heading for volunteering experiences.
- Skills: Use bullet points to detail languages you know, software and other tools you're well versed in, and soft skills like leadership or communication.
Tips for Writing Effective Resume Bullet Points
Keep these guidelines in mind as you boil down your duties, achievements, and skills:
- Craft bullet points tailored to the job. Select duties or achievements that match the qualifications for the job. Then, include two to four bullet points for each job or educational or volunteering experience you list. Avoid repeating yourself by restating the same responsibilities in different variations. List the items that are the most relevant to the job you want before items that are less consequential.
- Keep it simple. By virtue of their format, bullet points on a resume demand brevity. Each one should include a concise phrase or sentence.
- Use impactful language. Use vivid action verbs over mundane ones whenever possible to give the reader a more realistic sense of what you did.
- Skip the periods. Remember: Bullet points are often fragments rather than complete sentences. But if you choose to use a period for one phrase, use one for every bullet to maintain consistency and make your resume look more uniform and professional.
- Use a conventional bullet style, such as circles, hyphens, or small squares. Avoid other symbols that might look too confusing or might render incorrectly on a recipient's device. Style issues make it hard to evaluate the substance of your resume.
Consider using the format "verb, accomplishment, outcome" to demonstrate your value to employers in each bullet point. For example, "Developed and implemented an automation technique that cut document turnover time in half".
Once you have created a resume with bullets, save the file so that you can later update the bullet points when you submit your resume to tailor them to each new job. This way, you can quickly create a unique resume for each job application.
Examples of Bullet Points on a Resume
These resume templates provide job seekers with examples of bulleted lists that will work for almost any situation. They’ll also help you determine whether bullets are appropriate for your resume format.
Example #1 Bullet Points in Qualification Summary of Resume
- Certified Workforce Development Professional with 14 years’ experience as a Career Specialist
- Develop individual employment plans, goal setting strategy, and networking skills
- 90% successful employment placement rate
- Proficient with database programs including Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server
Example #2 Work Experience Resume Bullet Points
Manager, The Space Store, 2017–Present
- Created staff development plan that included training opportunities to encourage growth and increase responsibility
- Identified by customers in surveys as a strong communicator
- Lead annual weekend orientation training retreat for 20–30 new employees
Example #3 Bullet Points on Volunteering Experience
Volunteer, Special Olympics Training, January 2018–May 2018
- Created swimming drills to improve diving skills of Special Olympics athletes of different abilities
- Coordinated annual volunteer banquet for 100 volunteers and athletes; booked venue, ordered food, and decorated venue each year
The Bottom Line
Bullets make it easy for recruiters and hiring managers to scan and evaluate your professional experiences, but they're only one tool at your disposal as a job applicant.
If you want to draw the recruiter's attention, incorporate bullet points to relay your most compelling experiences, achievements, and skills. Once you get the interview, you can verbally expand on the bulleted points to wow the company with your expertise.