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The Resume Bullet Point Test

resume bullet point

So you’ve listed your career history, in reverse chronological order. Listed your skills. Summarized your story.

And you’ve explained what responsibilities you had at your various jobs. All those tasks, all those things you had to get done, are captured clear, spell checked, bullet pointed statements under your titles.

Impressive, isn’t it, how much a single person can accomplish in a job?  Not as much as you might think.

Every job comes with a list of responsibilities, and as much as it is essential that a hiring manager knows you can do the tasks of the particular job you are applying for, it is not enough. Too many other people have those responsibilities–unless your job is highly unusual. If you are not a lion tamer or the only person paid to search the Atlantic for mermaids, you need to rewrite those statements.

For each of the major responsibilities of a job (your bullet points) ask yourself the following questions. Recast your statements so they answer them, and in clearly measurable ways.

The Four Bullet Point Questions

  • Scope: Did you manage a territory or multiple offices? How many?
  • Scale: What was the size of the team or budget you managed? For those in finance, assets under management? For example, did you have a 10 million dollar budget, but only need 8 million to achieve your targets?
  • Timeframe: Did you achieve a major task 3 months ahead of schedule? This is a perfect way to show you have stellar time and project management skills.
  • Climate: A great way to stand apart from the competition is to show how you excelled in the climate of your company or industry. Was your company experiencing consecutive revenue loss quarter after quarter, yet you found a way to turn it around? Did the industry take a turn for the worse, yet you found an innovative approach to keep your company on top?

About the Author

Susan Price has been writing about careers, entrepreneurs and personal finance for more than a decade. She’s been an editor at BusinessWeek, Money, and, among others.