A CV can be difficult to read or scan.
Large chunks of text can hide important skills and experiences that an employer or Applicant Tracking System are looking for.
This is bad news, not least because employers typically only spend 15 seconds skimming each CV they look at.
If the information being sought isn’t found within this short time, then a CV will be rejected.
Writing a CV that presents key information in small bite sized portions.
Bullet points are an excellent way to do this.
What are bullet points?
Bullet points are small dots or symbols used to separate words, phrases or sentences in an unordered list.
They are perfect for drawing the attention of information hungry employers to a job applicants’ greatest strengths.
That’s not all, they can also make a CV easier to read and more visually appealing by giving it a professional looking structure.
About this page
Right here, you’ll learn everything you need to know about using bullet points to improve your CV.
Although there are no fixed rules about how to use bullet points in a CV, this page will give you clear guidance on;
- When to use bullet points.
- How to write bullet points
- How to list bullet points.
- Using bullet points to describe your skills.
- Using bullet points in your work experience.
- How to create bullet points.
- The length of sentences to use in a bullet point.
- How many bullet points to use in a CV.
You will also learn about the;
- Advantages of bullet points.
When to use bullet points
Bullet points can be used virtually anywhere in a CV.
Although mostly seen in the main sections such as work duties, skills, achievements and qualifications, they can also be used in additional categories such as hobbies, projects, foreign languages and interests.
Can they be used in any types of CVs?
How to write effective bullet points
Here are some tips on how to structure the sentences and words that go with bullet points;
Start each one with action words or a strong, dynamic action verb such as:
The first word should always start with a capital letter and complete the rest of the sentence in lowercase.
Finish each sentence with a full stop, not a colon.
If possible, keep the sentences the same length, it looks better.
- Proficient in word, excel, outlook, and PowerPoint.
- Experience of working in multi-professional teams.
- Can plan a program of activities within a time frame.
Keep them symmetrical
This is easier on the reader’s eye.
Fonts, indents, and Margins
Introducing bullet points
Any word or sentence introducing a list of bullet points should end with a colon, such as:
- Bullet point text goes here.
- Bullet point text goes here.
- Bullet point text goes here.
Get straight to the point
Use simple language to quickly demonstrate and highlight your strengths.
Don’t just write a shopping list
Avoid simply listing your previous tasks or skills, instead spice them up by:
- Including those competencies that the recruiter specifically wants in a candidate.
- Giving details of your accomplishments.
Do this by carefully reading the vacancies job description and picking out skills or experience related keywords that have been mentioned and then include these in what you write.
How to list bullet points
Always list them in order of importance.
For maximum effect prioritize your bullet points by placing the leading ones at the top of your CV and the least important ones at the bottom.
Never save the best for last, instead begin with your finest and most relevant skills, experience or achievements.
Using bullet points to describe your skills.
Create a section specifically for your most relevant hard and soft skills and then list them in bullet point form.
To grab the readers attention consider heading the list with related keywords or phrases, for instance if you are applying for a Sales position, you could do it as;
- Proven track record at exceeding monthly targets.
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
- Quickly building ongoing customer relationships.
Single word skills
Although less commonly used than sentences, bullet points can also be used to list single word skills, for instance:
Using bullet points in your work experience
The career history section is one of the most important and widely scrutinized parts of a CV.
It’s crucial that you word it up effectively.
You must go further than just lazily describing what you just did on a daily basis, and instead focus on your successes and performance.
Use bullet points to list your work duties
They’re a superb space saving way to explain your responsibilities.
How to introduce your work duties
Begin with basic details such as your job title, employer’s name, location and employment dates. Then list the bullet points under these.
SALES ASSISTANT – January 2020 – Present
Employers name – Coventry
- Generating leads from third party customer referrals.
- Making sales presentations to customers at offices.
- Handling all the administrative aspects of the sale.
- Educating customers through product demonstrations.
Which type of bullet points to use in a CV?
Aim to create bullet point circles like [•].
These are the most widely used types in the recruiting world.
- numbered lists
Be consistent with your formatting by using the same symbol throughout your CV.
Past and present employers
Use bullet points to describe your responsibilities for both your past and present employers.
How many bullet points to use per job
Have anywhere between 4 to 6 bullet points for each position.
Use more bullet points for your current role
Employers are more interested in your recent roles rather than what you did 5 or 10 years ago. Therefore, have twice as more bullet points for your latest positions rather than past ones.
How to create bullet points.
Inserting bullet points into a Microsoft Word document;
1. Select the words or sentence that you wish to make into a list – or, click the cursor right where you want the bullet point symbol to be.
2. Click the Home option at the top of the page.
3. From the User interface menu click the bullet list symbol and choose from the unordered, numbered or multilevel list.
Length of bullet point sentences.
Preferably a sentence should only be one line long.
Not only does it look better that way, but also shorter sentences are easier to read.
The golden rule is to say what you need to say in as few words as possible
Short sentences are easier to read and understand.
To keep a CVs shape its best to have all of your bulleted sentences the same length.
How many bullet points to use in a CV
This really depends on the length of your career history, how many jobs you’ve had in the past and your skill sets. It can also be set by the available space on your CV and the technical requirements of the job.
As a general rule here is some guidance;
For each role include between two to four bullet points to outline your duties. Use more bullet points for your most recent and relevant experience.
Have between 4 to 7 bullet points for your specialisms, professional and personal skill sets.
Don’t over do it
To many and your job application can look like a laundry list.
Too few bullet points
You risk having difficult to read blocks of text.
- The trick as always is to get balance right.
Advantages of bullet points
Apart from improving the readability of a CV, they are a superb way to;
- Bring attention to important information.
- Organise information.
- Make a document easier to read.
- Break up blocks of text.
- Make a CV look more professional.
- Separate sections.
Disadvantages of bullet points
If overused they can make the job applicant look lazy and convey the impression that you;
- Have poor communication skills.
- Can’t construct meaningful paragraphs.