Bullet Point Construction for the Resume
By John Karras
Resumes need to be accomplishment or benefit based. It is not enough to tell the reader simply “what you did” at a company or in your academic career. You need to tell them “if you were any good at it” as well, or a benefit associated with doing a certain task. When I work with job search candidates and clients one of the first discussions I will have with them regarding the resume is trying to identify where we might be able to integrate an accomplishment or benefit to the company into each bullet point. It might not be possible for every single bullet point, but where possible it can make all the difference between getting that interview or getting screened out.
Here is a real life example:
I was working with an entry level candidate in the accounting area. She had nothing going on in her search after months of trying. She just completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and had excellent grades and a solid entry level work record with internships and other part-time and full-time jobs. After applying this process to her initial bullet points she generated four interviews in a short period of time and is now an Accounting Associate with the Northern Trust.
This was the bullet she had on her initial resume:
-Managed and analyzed weekly reports on sales activity (what she did)
Now, ask yourself the “SO WHAT” question. Managed and analyzed weekly reports on sales activity (SO WHAT?) What was the benefit of doing this? The company had you do this task for a reason. What was it? Or, what was the accomplishment associated with doing this task? The answers to those questions helped us develop the following bullet point:
-Managed and analyzed weekly reports on sales activity allowing the sales manager to better track the success rate of each sales professional
The next step is to quantify if possible. Again, you might not be able to do this for every point, but when possible it is a very good thing to do. For example, there is a big difference between managing one person and managing a staff of ten people. We quantified that bullet in the following way which led to the final bullet point:
-Managed and analyzed weekly reports on sales activity allowing the sales manager to better track the success rate of ten sales professionals
Original bullet point was the following:
-Prepared invoices and receipts (What she did)
When we applied the SO WHAT question we came up with the following bullet point:
-Prepared invoices and receipts allowing the Accounts Receivable Department maintain up to date records
When we quantified the bullet point we came up with the final bullet point:
-Prepared invoices and receipts allowing the Accounts Receivable Department maintain up to date records for up to 100 customers
I think you will agree that the final bullet points are much stronger than what we started with. These examples were for an entry level person, but the process is the same for more senior level people. By following this simple “SO WHAT and QUANTIFY” strategy I am sure you can improve some of the bullet points on your resume.
John Karras, President, Job Transitions, Inc. (708) 277-8813 firstname.lastname@example.org
LinkedIn Profile Page: www.linkedin.com/in/john-karras-96b2298