As a certified professional resume writer and career coach (CPRW / CPCC) with deep expertise in IT recruitment, one of the mistakes I frequently see on resumes is over-bulleting. While the human brain is amazing, it cannot crash into a wall at 60 miles per hour (without proper protection, of course). The brain also has a limited attention span, which is why a list of 20+ bullets is a bad move when it comes to resume writing.
Having read thousands of resumes and spoken with many recruiters, I have come to believe that the maximum number of consecutive bullets appearing in a row should not exceed six. 95% of the time I keep it to five.
After the sixth bullet, most readers can’t help skipping to the next section. They max on on attention span. What this means for you is that many of your important points may never be read and even worse, your resume could land in the rejected pile. I can’t count the number of times that good candidates buried the best information beyond bullet number 10.
Here are 5 tips for decreasing and improving the bulleting on your resume:
- Save bullets for your achievements only. Separate your daily duties from your broader contributions to company success in order to make your bullets special.
- Instead, group your daily duties into paragraph form, explaining what you did. Once your duties are separated out, the bulleted achievements can then be created.
- Think about a few situations where you did something that got recognition, increased revenue, decreased costs/expenditures, or aided team members or management. It should be something you are proud of that is relevant to the job you are seeking.
- Remember though that it is not enough to bullet what you did and quantify why it was good, you also want to think about how you did what you did. What was the magic ingredient you brought to the project/event/accomplishment. Why are YOU a ROCKSTAR??
- Keep your bullets to no more than three lines (two is better) and when you don’t have specific numbers, use adverbs to broadly quantify your successes.
Extra tip: If you did a lot of good things at the same firm for a long time, you may want to do five or six bullets of one type and then indent, add a second section called Additional Accomplishments or similar. Then add a few more bullets using a different, but complimentary bullet style. =================================================================
Wendy Schwartz, CPRW / CPCC, is a certified resume writer and career consultant as well as a seasoned IT Recruiter with experience working for software firms and consulting organizations throughout the US.
Wendy has helped thousands of candidates with resumes, job search strategies, and interview preparation. As principal of ITJobSearchHelp.com and SearchProDirect.com, she is passionate about helping job seekers achieve their goals. To reach her directly, feel free to email info@ITJobSearchHelp.com for a no-obligation consultation.