Many of you out there really struggle with summarizing and condensing the many achievements you have to bullet points for your resume. I’m here to help you manage this painful process with a few tips on length and style. Here is some guidance to help you (and hopefully alleviate some of the anxiety!).
Bullets that are four or five lines in length will not resonate with your reader. Keep the bullet points to at most two lines by being concise and remembering to deliver the information in a compelling way. Deliver achievements in a clear and concise manner. Provide the reader with examples using this formula:
S – Situation: Describe the situation in which you are participating.
A – Action: What action did you take?
R – Result: Highlight the outcome, including quantifiable achievements.
Start with an active action verb in the past tense
A bullet point achievement should describe a definite event that took place at a specific time in the past. Hence, the simple past tense should almost always be used. Avoid passive verbs like “helped” or “supported” that don’t add a lot of value to what you are saying you did. Words like “generated,” “delivered” or “exceeded” are far more powerful and descriptive.
Ask yourself these questions
- Can this achievement be measured? Can it be estimated? Bullet point achievements are the perfect way to show your reader a concrete example of how you added value. – If you can’t state exactly what you produced or delivered, a reasonable estimate is more than sufficient and better than nothing at all
- Is this written in plain English? A straightforward approach is the best way to engage your reader and deliver the most compelling information
- Is the context and the impact clear? Make sure you add necessary background information (situation) to your bullet point so that the how and why or your achievement can be easily understood.
If you follow these guidelines you will improve how your achievements are written and your resume will work in your favor. Good luck!
Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org.