How To Beat Out The Competition with Great Resume Bullet Points
By Tiffany Goyette

Recent studies have found that recruiters spend an average of six seconds reviewing a candidate’s resume to determine if they are a fit for the open position. Within this short time frame, it’s important to make a good impression and demonstrate your strength as a candidate.
It’s important to remember that your competition likely has similar career experience and job functions to you, so compelling resume bullet points that describe your job performance are critical. Here is a comprehensive list of what traits will help your resume bullet points wow your recruiter.

It’s a Numbers Game. Use numbers to put your bullet points into context. How big was your annual budget, what percent of total sales volume were you responsible for, what percent-change did you drive, how many monthly sales passed through your website, or what percentile were your net promoter scores? Using numbers will help your accomplishments stand out from the competition.

Highlight Reel. Bullet points should only cover major accomplishments or impactful responsibilities. Don’t list out some of the mundane or everyday job functions, such as providing customer service or managing the social media accounts of your company. Point to improvements, expansions, or meaningful ways you helped improve your company. If listing a responsibility, focus on the most prestigious ones and note how you exceeded expectations.

Problem Solving. A little-known resume tip is to highlight business problems that you solved. Not only does this showcase your aptitude, but it also reinforces the idea that you would become a meaningful contributor to the company’s success. This isn’t widely practiced, so it will also help your resume stand out. Bonus points if you identified the problem!

Powerful Language. Make sure your word choice clearly demonstrates your ownership of the accomplishment. Avoid pronouns such as “team” or “department”, even if they might have contributed. Swap out “helped” for “drove” or led”.

Draw Connections. Ensure at least some of your bullet points directly relate to functions or responsibilities in the job description. Not only does this increase your perceived fit for the role but it will also likely help your resume successfully pass through their resume screening program which focuses on the appearance of keywords within your resume bullet points.

Implementations & Innovation. Did you help your company switch over to a better software or an improved process? Note that (along with the numeric effect)! Did you brainstorm an innovation for your department or the company overall? Being an agent of change is viewed very favorably so be sure to showcase your best and most successful implementation and innovations!

Reduce Cognitive Load. Recruiters do not spend much time reading each resume, and they are looking for specific keywords within your bullet points. The harder it is for a recruiter to scan through your resume, the less likely they will successfully find the keywords they’re looking for. Ensure your resume bullet points are uniform in style, not too small, and evenly spaced to reduce the mental effort to find what they are looking for within your resume.

Efficiency and Profit. Once your resume passes to the actual hiring manager or their bosses for approval, resume bullet points relating to cost efficiency or increased profits will help you stand out from the final-round competition. Both of these topics are very much of interest to them.

Avoid Repetition. Don’t begin every bullet point the same way, such as with a number or phrase. Alternate between beginning with numbers or phrases, and avoid repetition of the same phrase (“Responsible for” is a commonly over-used one). Never repeat the exact same phrase for two different roles, even if the task or function was the same.

Focus on What Matters. Eye-tracking studies on recruiters have found that they spend the most time on your current and previous company. Spend extra time ensuring these bullet points are most impressive, compelling, and relatable to the job you’re applying for. If your earlier jobs more directly related to the position you’re applying for, re-do your resume layout to group jobs by theme or function to place the most relevant jobs first.

Demonstrate Your Core Skills. In the event the role you’re applying to doesn’t exactly align with your career experience, focus the resume bullet points for your previous positions to focus on the comparable or relatable skills. Not only is this critical for the software that pre-screens resumes, but also the recruiter reviewing stage. Don’t rely on your cover letter alone to draw the connections. Also consider listing relevant coursework if your previous experience doesn’t immediately align or if you’re a student beginning their career.

Action Verbs. Wherever possible, use an action verb to showcase your ability to kick butt and take names. Exciting, powerful action verbs will stand out from the ho-hum, usual resume language. Here are some great examples of uncommon action verbs that will pop and demonstrate your mastery of the task: architected, activated, brokered, built, championed, commanded, deployed, engineered, introduced, presided, propelled, revolutionized, and spearheaded.

Returning to Work. If you took time in between careers, or want to avoid a laundry-list of short-term positions, you can summarize multiple positions together under Early Career. Combine your experiences, contributions, and roles within the bullet points for this section.

Diverse Skills. Most professionals have experience in office programs or top software related to their industry or job role. Instead, begin your Skills section with diverse skills individuals in your role do not typically possess. If you focus on sales but also have masterful photography or photoshop skills, not only is that interesting, but it highlights ways in which you’ll be able to contribute to the company beyond your typical day-to-day responsibilities. If relevant, and if space allows include significant contributions to company projects using your non-standard skills within the bullet points as well.


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