How to Write Bullet Point Descriptions

When it comes to writing your resume, bullet point descriptions are the most challenging aspect. Your bullet points need to contain an essential skill, a technical skill, and (sometimes) a quantified outcome. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) look for skills and experiences that match the job you are applying to. However, they are also programmed to highlight sections of a resume that may have been copied and pasted from the job description. 

You should be original and share your story, explain why you deserve the job, and show the employer that you will help the company be stronger and more successful! 

Curating bullet points can be especially difficult if you don' have much work experience. Fortunately, experience doesn’t just come from paid work. You gained experience from volunteering, extracurricular activities, and class projects. 

Now you're probably wondering how to turn those experiences into impactful bullet points. Don't worry! We will cover both scenarios below.

Steps For Writing Bullet Points

  1. Ask yourself, What were my daily responsibilities?
  2. Think about the essential skills you used while working, volunteering, etc. 
    • Click here to learn more about essential skills! 
  3. Think about the technical skills you used while working, volunteering, etc.
    • Click here to learn more about technical skills! 
  4. Determine how to quantify your responsibilities (i.e., customer satisfaction or sales). 
    • It's okay if you can't quantify each experience. Write a bullet point without a quantification instead. 
    • Do not fabricate numbers. 
    • The ATS will not reject your resume if you omit a quantification. 
    • Quinn suggests quantification as an improvement. You will not receive a flag for omitting a quantification. 
  5. Figure out 3-5 of the responsibilities you want to write about that connect to the industry or position you want to apply for. 
    • Combine some experiences if they connect.
  6. Write your bullet points using the following framework: Performed X to do Y resulting in Z. 
Note: Use the bullet point tool when writing so the ATS will recognize your bullet point descriptions. 
Tip: Do not write the name of the company or the title of your position in your bullet point. The hiring manager will know what you are talking about from the experience header. 

Writing Bullet Points for Work Experience

Work Experience Example: Server

Steps: 

  1. What were my responsibilities? 
    • Prepared restaurant tables, utensils, and customer waiting areas
    • Took orders from customers
    • Answered questions about the menu and provided recommendations
    • Organized staff 
    • Issued bills, accepted payments, and counted the money at end of the night
  2. Essential skills: 
    • Collaborated 
    • Listened
    • Clarified
    • Accommodated
    • Established
    • Communicated
    • Time management
  3. Technical skills:
    • Basic math
    • POS (Point of Sale) system - advanced
    • Persuasion
    • Note-taking
  4. Quantifying: 
    • Upsold sales targets by 14%
  5. Which responsibilities do I want to talk about?
  6. Write bullet points: 
    • Exceeded sales target by 14% by up-selling appetizers and drinks based on specific preferences.
    • Organized tips across a 12-person staff at the end of each shift. 
    • Verified dietary restrictions guests adhered to and guided them to 16 specialty menu items. 
    • Coached 5 new servers in the POS system and company basics. 

Writing Bullet Points for Volunteer, Extra-Curricular Activities, or Class Projects

Example: Class Project 

Project: Presentation on [Insert Topic]

  1. What were my responsibilities? 
    • Read textbooks, articles, and monographs 
    • Researched
    • Wrote a 10-page paper
    • Interviewed relevant people for the paper
    • Created and presented a PowerPoint
  2. Essential skills:
    • Developed
    • Examined
    • Received feedback
    • Wrote
    • Compiled 
    • Organized
  3. Technical skills: 
    • Researched 
    • Microsoft Word 
    • Used management system, Canvas
  4. Quantifying: 
    • The assignment accounted for 40% of the grade
  5. Which responsibilities do I want to talk about?
  6. Write bullet points:
    • Researched and wrote a 10-page paper worth 15% of the grade and presented the information discovered while using Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. 
    • Analyzed statistical data using both modern and traditional methods. 
    • Utilized a statistical tool to generate 95% confidence limits on the research data. 

What does this look like on my resume?

Quinn University History Department                                  Boston, MA

Research Project (Student)                                                     Sept. 2022-Dec. 2022 

  • Conducted deep research into [add topic] as directed by professors. Commended by 3 professors for quality of research. Worth 40% of the final grade.
  • Delivered an on-campus presentation about the impact of [research topic] during an annual conference for 25% of attendees. 
  • Completed a study (based on simulated data) investigating [research topic].   
  • Interviewed [type of people] to assess [specific part of research project] which contributed to 15% of the paper. 

Quinncia Restaurant                                                             Boston, MA

Server                                                                                     Sept. 2019-Dec. 2021

  • Served 25% of restaurant tables, clarified menu options, persuaded customers to try restaurant specials, and listened to customer needs.
  • Raised customer satisfaction by 17% by introducing new table placement which made it easier for guests to access food and beverages.
  • Responsible for closing the cash register. Managed an average of $8,000 per shift. 
  • Improved customer satisfaction by managing customer vehicles and reducing customer wait time by 20%. 

Additional Bullet Point Description Examples

Lifeguard Experience:

  • Supervised over 100 kids during the summer and had 0 incidents. Achieved a 97% open rate for the local community pool during business hours. 
  • Strategized various methods of teaching swimming to a diverse group of students. Increased enrollment by 10%. 

Cashier/Customer Service Experience

  • Assisted 50+ daily customers with checkout and answered outstanding questions. 
  • Achieved a 2% return rate, 42% below target estimates, by learning product inventory and customer needs. 
  • Exceeded the mailing program sign-up rates by 13% in 2019. 
  • Doubled customer purchase rate targets by 17% and average order size targets by 6%. 
  • Directed 40+ daily customers to the proper department based on their needs and questions.  

You might have noticed present tense verbs getting flagged in Quinncia. This is because we focus on achievement-based bullet points, rather than task-based. 

  • Task-based bullets focus on your job duties. They list what you did day-to-day instead of highlighting your skills or the results from the work you've done
  • Achievement-based bullets focus on what you have accomplished at your job so far, the skills you have learned, and the impact you've made on the business

Since we are focusing on achievements, you want to highlight the skills that you already have and the accomplishments that you've already made by using past tense verbs. 

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