There are many important aspects of a resume.
One of the most crucial ones is to format your Work Experience Section correctly.
You need to figure out what to include and how much to go into detail about every listing in the section.
The best way to show your experience in the best possible light is to include some bullet points in your section.
But how to do that?
That’s what we are here for.
In this article, we are going to go through some basics topics like:
- What are bullet points
- When to Use Bullet Points in a Resume
- What should bullet points contain
As well as some more complicated questions like:
- How many bullet points should you include per job?
- Can you use sub-bullet points?
- The right number of bullet points for different experience levels
And, as always, we will finish off with some tips and tricks, and, of course, an example of everything covered in the article.
If you are not looking for overall resume tips, rather than in-depth information for the particular one, we have just the thing for you - Make Your Resume Stand Out.
But if you are determined to learn everything you need to know about your Work Experience Section and how to use bullet points in it, stick around.
What are bullet points on a resume
Let’s start with the basics - what exactly are bullet points on a resume?
The main function of bullet points is to highlight your qualifications and achievements, and create an easy-to-read list.
Keep in mind that hiring managers go through tons of resumes on a daily basis.
Using bullet points helps them find what they need quickly and efficiently.
And it helps you, as the hiring manager would find your qualities with ease.
But don’t misunderstand - don’t use bullet points just for the sake of it.
They need to have a point.
Make sure that the information you provide with each bullet point answers a question that the hiring manager might have about why you are the right person for the job.
In order to improve your chances, you should use mainly action verbs.
They really make you stand out in front of all other candidates.
When to Use Bullet Points in a Resume
Bullet points are beneficial for every resume format:
And they can be used in any place of the resume.
The most important bullet points you can include are in the Work Experience Section.
While in this section, bullet points should include accomplishments and duties on previous job positions.
How many bullet points you should have depends largely on the type of job and how much work experience you have, but we will get deeper in that topic later on.
Other places you can include bullet points on your resume are:
If you ever wonder whether to use a paragraph or bullet list, always stick to bullet lists, as they are easier to read by hiring managers and give an overall better impression.
How Many Bullet Points Should You Use Per Job on a Resume?
That’s a hard estimate to make, as it depends largely on your previous experience.
But we will get to that part later on.
For now, let’s discuss what’s the perfect middle, how many bullet points should you include per job on your resume, so that it would look its best.
The work experience section is arguably the most important one on your resume, and thus it usually takes more space than any other section.
But make sure you know your resume’s limits, don’t make any job so long that you cannot fit any of the other important sections for your resume.
When it comes to the number of bullet points, it varies a lot.
It depends largely on how old is the job position you are listing.
If it comes to your current job, you can go up to 8 bullet points, but when you do so, make sure to pick one area of expertise and make the whole bullet list revolve around it.
The further away in the past the job position is, the less bullet points it needs. You can shrink the list up to 1-2 bullet points in these cases.
But the perfect middle for a number of bullet points per job on a resume would be between 3 and 5.
A bullet list with between 3 and 5 bullet points in it is considered to be the most pleasant to the eye and is actually psychologically more effective.
If you find yourself with a bullet list that is too long, you can always consider including some of your points in the skills section instead.
But if you find yourself in the opposite situation - having a too short bullet list, you have nothing to worry about.
Remember, quality is far better than quantity.
Keep your bullet list powerful and relevant, and you will always be one step ahead of other job candidates.
Can you use sub-bullet points for jobs on a resume?
Sub-bullet points can be used in your work experience section, but only if there are special circumstances for that.
For example, you would need to include as a sub-bullet point if you need to mention the publisher of a publication of yours, or if you need to specify a certification number.
In any other case, the sub-bullet points are not recommended.
Furthermore, if you include too many sub-bullet points, your resume will start to seem messy and unorganized.
The right number of bullet points for different experience levels
Another thing you need to consider when deciding the length of your bullet lists is the experience level of the positions you are including.
It might seem easy and close-to-mind, but a little browse through that section couldn’t hurt.
Even if you are applying for an entry-level position with very little or no experience, you can still show some important aspects on your resume.
In this case, there are numerous things you can include instead of work experience, like:
Just remember to focus on your accomplishments, no matter how small.
As little as 2-3 relevant bullet points can be the difference between getting your interview and not.
Having some experience in similar roles to the one you are applying for, makes things a lot easier.
What you need to do then is a brainstorming session.
Think about all your biggest accomplishments and make a list of all that are relevant to the job position.
Pick the best ones to include in your bullet list, keeping in mind all the advice we gave you about the number you should include.
Remember to make your bullet points compatible with what the hiring manager is looking for.
Senior or leadership positions
Of course, the easiest option would be if you had lots of experience.
But being well-established in your career might put you in an equally difficult situation as an entry-level worker.
You have many things you can include in your bullet list, but perhaps too many.
You will be tempted to go over the 5-6 maximum, and that’s okay because you really have a lot to show the hiring manager.
But don’t go too far.
Making your bullet list 8 bullets long is more than enough.
Anything more than that would no longer work in your favor.
Freelance and consulting
Self-employment, freelance and consulting positions can benefit the most out of bullet lists, describing what exactly was the job.
If you include such work on your resume, consider separating your bullet points into groups about different projects or different clients.
Even though that kind of job is very different from a traditional in-house role, your bullet lists should look the same.
Focus on accomplishments, use hard numbers, and don’t forget to include the company name and job title.
How long should each bullet point be?
Another thing you need to be on the lookout for is the length of each bullet point in your list.
Unless every accomplishment you have is fascinating, you need to be careful with both length of the list and length of every bullet point.
The length for a bullet point you need to aim at is about 1-2 lines.
Any longer than that would be too long and would once again work against you.
Keeping your bullet list strict makes your accomplishments really stand out.
Do you need bullet points for every position?
Though it is not mandatory, it would be better if you have at least 1-2 bullet points underneath every job position.
But that raises another question - if you have no accomplishments to list for a position, should you even include it on your resume?
If the job position is from 10 years ago, or even more, but it is still relevant, you can skip out on the bullet list.
But if it is a recent position, you should not skip out on your bullet list, include at least 1-2 bullet points.
If you list a recent job position and leave out the bullet list, the hiring manager might think that you accomplished nothing of significance and discard your resume.
Some Tips to List Bullet Points
As promised, we are going to give you some tips and tricks to really nail your bullet list.
Keep it to the point
One of the most important things is to only include information that is crucial.
What you can include is accomplishments and skills you have gained in the work process, as well as how you helped the company reach its goals.
Include anything relevant:
- If you were a team lead, list your team’s size and the milestones you achieved
- If you ran a successful campaign, be sure to list all the important numbers
And so on.
You get the idea.
Order is important
Having an impressive bullet list is not always enough.
You should also know how to order it.
Make sure the most crucial information is listed as the first bullet point, and continue your list in order of importance.
Use Action Verbs
Instead of starting your bullet list with simple words, make sure you use action verbs.
The goal of action verbs is to show the hiring manager that you are right for the job because you have delivered results before.
These verbs also show that you are a go-getter and a risk-taker, and you can get the job done.
Make it relevant to the job description
Last but not least, make sure that your bullet list is relevant to the job description.
If any bullet points seem irrelevant, exclude them, they would only take up your limited space.
Instead of irrelevant bullet points, you can include soft skills, as they would attract your potential employers.
In order to do it right, we can use a simple template:
[Company Name]: [Start date] - [End date]
- Most important bullet point
- Bullet point that does not require more information
- Bullet point that requires more information
- More information for the bullet point
- Least important bullet point
And so, an example of that would be:
Google: 05/05/2014 - 12/07/2019
- Managed a team of over 100 employees
- Oversaw all big projects of the company and managed all the deadlines
- Co-developed and patented an innovative financial system
- US Patent No. 123,456,789 - Jun, 2017
- Managed a separate project, aimed at helping the company’s growth
Takeaways: How many bullet points per job on a resume?
We are all done.
Now you know what bullet points are and how to use them in your work experience section.
You are now ready to start listing your accomplishments and format them in the best possible way.
Take your time and estimate the number of bullet points you need for different situations, as well as the length of each.
Don’t forget to use action verbs and list your bullet points in order of importance.
Keep our examples in mind and make your section perfect for the job you seek.