How To Write Bullet Point Descriptions

Bullet point descriptions are the most challenging part when writing your resume. Your bullet points need to contain an essential skill, a technical skill, and (sometimes) a quantified outcome. When it comes to applicant tracking systems (ATS) they are programmed to look for skills and experiences that match with 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. 

So it’s important to 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. 

What can be more challenging about bullet points is if you don’t have much work experience. The great thing is, experience doesn’t just come from paid work. Experience is developed from volunteering, extra-curricular activities, and class projects. But you may be asking, “How do I write bullet points about those experiences?” Well, don’t worry! We will go over both scenarios here. 

The best way to write bullet points is by using the framework: “Performed X to do Y resulting in Z”

Please note: In order for an ATS to recognize your bullet point descriptions, you need to use the bullet point tool when writing them! 

Steps For Writing Bullet Points

  1. Ask yourself, “What were my daily responsibilities?”
  2. Think about which essential skills were used each day of work, volunteering, etc. 
    • Curious what essential skills are? Click here to learn! 
  3. Think about which technical skills were used each day of work, volunteering, etc.
    • Curious what technical skills are? Click here to learn! 
  4. Determine if there were any responsibilities that could be quantified (i.e., customer satisfaction or sales). 
    • If you cannot quantify your experience, that is okay! Write a bullet point without a quantification. 
    • Do not make up numbers!
    • Your resume will not be rejected from an ATS if you leave out a quantification! 
    • Quinn does not flag you for leaving out a quantification, she only suggests it as an improvement!
  5. Figure out 3-5 of the responsibilities you want to write about that connect to the industry or position you are interested in applying for. 
    • You can even combine some experiences if they connect with one another.
  6. Now follow the framework “Performed X to do Y resulting in Z” to write your bullet points!
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


  1. What were my responsibilities? 
    • Prepared restaurant tables, utensils, and customer waiting areas
    • Took orders from customers
    • Answered questions about the menu and made recommendations
    • Dealt with complaints and problems
    • 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: 
    • Served 25% of tables each night of work.
  5. Which responsibilities do I want to talk about?
  6. Write bullet points: 
    • Collaborated and communicated with restaurant staff by placing customer orders and feedback through the POS (point of sales) system. 
    • Served 25% of restaurant tables each evening of work, while clarifying menu options, persuading customers to consider the restaurant special, and listening to customers’ orders. 
    • Listened and dealt with customer complaints and problems in a positive manner and accommodated them with solutions leaving them satisfied.

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

Example: Class Project 

Project: PowerPoint Presentation on “The Olympics - 1980 & 1984”

  1. What were my responsibilities? 
    • Read textbooks, articles, and monographs 
    • Researched the time frame and history of the Olympics 
    • Researched Cold War facts
    • Wrote a 10-page paper
    • Learned the assignment guidelines and scoring to achieve a good grade
    • Created PowerPoint 
    • Asked instructor for feedback
    • Created a presentation script using Word document
  2. Essential skills:
    • Developed
    • Examined
    • Explored
    • Analyzed
    • Received feedback
    • Gathered 
    • Wrote
    • Compiled 
    • Organized
  3. Technical skills: 
    • Researched 
    • Microsoft PowerPoint
    • Microsoft Word 
    • Used management system, Canvas
  4. Quantifying: 
    • The assignment was worth 15% of the grade
  5. Which responsibilities do I want to talk about?
  6. Write bullet points:
    • Researched then wrote a 10-page paper worth 15% of the grade and presented the information discovered all while using Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. 
    • Explored and examined textbook chapters, articles, and monographs to map out and compile information from this time period. 
    • Organized research expectations by reviewing assignment guidelines and scoring on Canvas, a management system, to achieve a high score. 
    • Received feedback from the instructor to evolve the thesis and discovered information to develop a stronger paper and presentation. 

What does this look like on my resume?

Lastly, 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 - these focus on your job duties, basically just listing what you did day-to-day. Not highlighting your skills or the results from the work you've done
  • Achievement-based bullets - these focus on what you have accomplished at your job so far. What skills you have learned and the impact you've made on the business

Since we are focusing on achievements, you are highlighting skills you already have and accomplishments you've already made. That's why your verb should be in the past tense. 

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