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Tell a Story With Your Work Experience Bullet Points

Updated May 11, 2021 6 min

After you've completed your brainstorming exercise to lay out all of the work experiences you've had, it's time to turn each part of your experiences into a story about your accomplishments. This is where we refine your "brain dump!"

Storytelling is simply the best way to communicate your experience because it makes information easy to understand. So once you have down your accomplishments, you’ll build each one into a quick story that’s easy to share.

Looking back through your brainstorm, you’ll have come up with a lot of responsibilities. These are things that you did and the actions you took. They paint a picture in the readers’ minds of what was happening and explain how you did things. They sound like:

  • Closed deals with clients

  • Wrote newsletters

  • Queried database in SQL

  • Used challenger sales techniques

  • Communicated with clients

  • Presented to leadership

  • Coordinated cross-functionally

  • Documented processes

You’ll also have come up with at least a few achievements. These are results you influenced. They’re the secret sauce to impactful resumes. They sound like:

  • Sold 4 life insurance policies of $500,000 each

  • Set up all social media profiles to drive market awareness

  • Got the brand in front of people through influencer marketing

  • Worked on making customers happy with every email

  • Hired a team of 6

  • Improved employee engagement through D&I initiatives

  • Caught an error that saved the company $400,000

  • Redid the onboarding process to make it faster

Effective resume bullets tie together achievements and responsibilities, showing how your actions influenced a quantifiable result. Sometimes, you’ll end up with multiple responsibilities or multiple achievements in the same bullet. You’ll end up with something like this:

  • Led go-to-market strategy, messaging, and marketing execution for the entire organization, increasing customer growth by 40% YoY and 274% in total

  • Designed a QA process for work completed by our offshore team that led to a 19% MoM decrease in profiles flagged for quality issues 

  • Eliminated radiology charge capture errors by linking charges, reducing $34,000 in billing errors annually

  • Coached 3 supervisors, 9 managers, and 5 directors through development, launch, and execution of process improvement in their departments

Not every bullet point needs to be an achievement or look exactly like this. Just aim to have 3-5 solid accomplishment-oriented bullet points per experience. 

Start with Action Verbs

Start every bullet with an action verb. We love this list of 185 Action Verbs from the Muse as a resource. Feel free to use it.

As you’re writing your bullets, be sure to:

  • Write everything in the past tense, unless it's a current responsibility in a current role. 

  • Use a unique verb for each bullet point. This makes your resume more interesting to read and avoids it feeling trite or fluffy.

  • Eliminate any pronouns (e.g., I, me, my, we, our) from your resume. Resumes with pronouns get far fewer callbacks than ones without.

Own the Spotlight 🔦

“Wow! I’ve got to meet this person!” is the feeling we’re looking to create.

To achieve that, adopt a tone that makes you sound important, competent, ambitious, and impactful. Include a bullet about any leadership scenarios (even if small!). It’s OK if you don’t feel like this as a person all the time. Most people don’t. :)

Often, initial drafts of resumes that we see reference a team, including keywords like “team player,” “collaborator,” or “supporting member.”  It’s OK to include those sorts of words once or twice. Just limit it to once or twice to keep the focus on you. 

Incorporate Numbers 🔢

You may have noticed that all the example accomplishments above included numbers. This is the single most powerful thing you can do to improve your positive response rate to your resume. Numbers complete the story and improve your credibility!

See for yourself how much stronger resume bullets are when they incorporate numbers:

Resume Data Points Comparison Table

It makes a huge difference. Right?

Rules of thumb for numbers on a resume:

  • Include one number in at least every three bullet points. No need to overstuff your resume with numbers.

  • It's worth the time, even if you have to go back through old documents or touch base with old coworkers

  • If it’s against company policy to disclose numbers, write something more general instead. For example, say things like “multi-million dollar” or “greater than 100%”.

  • If you really don’t have the information, a very honest best estimate is acceptable. Just be prepared in an interview to explain how you estimated if asked. Be sure to use the same numbers you put on your resume when answering any interview questions!

As a reminder, here's what you came up with during your brainstorming exercise:

Now it's time to turn your initial thoughts into compelling bullet points.