Writing Strong Bullet Points

Your bulleted descriptions are the heart of your resume, curriculum vitae (CV), and even professional profiles (LinkedIn, Handshake, etc.). They should go beyond a simple list of your duties and communicate what you learned, accomplished, impacted, or changed during your prior experience that will help you excel in the position you are applying for.

To write effective bullet points:

  1. Begin each bullet with an action verb
  2. Be specific about what you accomplished that relates to the position you seek
  3. Incorporate transferable skills that all employers want

Begin each bullet with an action verb

Each bullet point should start with a powerful action verb. Download a list of good action verbs for resumes.

Tips:

  • Avoid starting bullet points with “Responsible for,” “Assisted with” or “Primary duties included”
  • Avoid personal pronouns (e.g., no references to “I,” “we,” “me,” “us,” or “my”)

Provide detail

Provide details about what you accomplished that relate to the position you seek. Use a
"what, how, why" format.

What

Begin with what you did. Be specific and simple. What did you do in your position? Examples:

  • Answered telephones
  • Planned an event
  • Entered data into Excel

How

How did you perform those tasks? Review your list of tasks or responsibilities and ask yourself what skills you used. Use numbers to quantify your accomplishments whenever you can. Examples:

  • Operated a multi-line phone for five busy attorneys using effective problem-solving and customer service skills
  • Coordinated an event for more than 100 students by communicating with on-site liaison
  • Executed financial analysis of department spending in Excel

Why

Adding "why" helps the reader understand the purpose of your actions and see what you accomplished in your role. Examples:

  • Operated a multi-line phone for five busy attorneys using effective problem-solving and customer service skills to ensure customer satisfaction
  • Coordinated recognition event for more than 100 students who completed a certificate program by communicating with on-site liaison
  • Executed financial analysis of department spending in Excel and wrote comprehensive report for manager

Demonstrate transferable skills

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has identified eight career readiness competencies based on extensive research among employers.

We might call these core skills or transferable skills. They are qualities that every employer wants in its employees, no matter their job function or level of experience.

To the extent that you can demonstrate that you have these skills in the Experience section of your resume or curriculum vitae (CV), you will be more successful in your job search.

Critical Thinking/Problem Solving

Exercise sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions, and overcome problems. The individual is able to obtain, interpret, and use knowledge, facts, and data in this process, and may demonstrate originality and inventiveness.

Oral/Written Communications

Articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in written and oral forms to persons inside and outside the organization. The individual has public speaking skills; is able to express ideas to others; and can write/edit memos, letters, and complex technical reports clearly and effectively.

Teamwork/Collaboration

Build collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints. The individual is able to work within a team structure and can negotiate and manage conflict.

Digital Technology

Leverage existing digital technologies ethically and efficiently to solve problems, complete tasks, and accomplish goals. The individual demonstrates effective adaptability to new and emerging technologies.

Leadership

Leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals, and use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others. The individual is able to assess and manage their emotions and those of others; use empathetic skills to guide and motivate; and organize, prioritize, and delegate work.

Professionalism/Work Ethic

Demonstrate personal accountability and effective work habits, e.g., punctuality, working productively with others, and time workload management, and understand the impact of non-verbal communication on professional work image. The individual demonstrates integrity and ethical behavior, acts responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind, and is able to learn from mistakes.

Career Management

Identify and articulate one's skills, strengths, knowledge, and experiences relevant to the position desired and career goals, and identify areas necessary for professional growth. The individual is able to navigate and explore job options, understands and can take the steps necessary to pursue opportunities, and understands how to self-advocate for opportunities in the workplace.

Global/Intercultural Fluency

Value, respect, and learn from diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and religions. The individual demonstrates openness, inclusiveness, sensitivity, and the ability to interact respectfully with all people and understand individuals’ differences.

Want a second opinion?

  • Run your resume through the VMock online resume review tool
  • Come to walk-in hours to review your resume with a career coach