By Karen Hofferber, CPRW Certified Professional Resume Writer with ResumePower.com
Microsoft Office Word Resume Design Tip: Using Bullets Effectively in Your Resume
Two common problems seen often in resumes today are either an overuse or an absence of bullets.
Bullets (small circles, squares, or other symbols) directly precede indented text on a resume. Their purpose is to signal to the reader, “Take note! Important point to follow!” Bullets are also a great way to break up long blocks of text to make your resume more reader-friendly.
When used strategically, bullets are effective in calling attention to major points that you want to emphasize. An “Areas of Expertise” list, opening qualifications profile, and inventory of “Key Accomplishments” are all good choices to add in a bullet. But if you bullet almost every single word, phrase, or sentence in your resume, you’ll lose the desired effect.
Conversely, if you don’t use any bullets in your resume, you miss out on a great way to hit home your key points, guide readers’ eyes through your document, and facilitate quick skimming. By using bullets judiciously, you’ll improve the appearance and lasting impact of your resume.
Word 2010 makes it easy to insert a bullet. Simply open your document and place the curser on the line or paragraph where you want to insert a bullet. On the Home tab, in the Paragraph group, click the Bullets button. Choose a bullet style from the Bullet Library. Or, click Define New Bullet, which will take you to a new box where you can select the font, size, bullet type, and indentation you want. When you’re done, click OK and the line or paragraph you selected will be instantly bulleted and evenly indented.
Targeting companies vs. recruiters
Whether your resume is targeting hiring managers at companies or recruiters, it must convey your key strengths and representative accomplishments powerfully and succinctly. Concise writing is important to both of these audiences, but brevity is essential to recruiters, who may receive hundreds of resumes (many unsolicited) every day. This is especially true in our current challenging economy with recruiters being flooded with resumes from professionals who’ve been downsized or fear an imminent layoff.
When targeting companies, a two- or three-page resume is a good length for many professionals (the right length for you depends on your years of experience, career goal, and number of jobs held). Companies are hungry for the particulars of your achievements. Even though your resume most likely will not be read word-for-word in the initial screening phase, it will be given a thorough review once you make it to the interview cut. In order to get there, you must provide enough information to warrant closer review.
But when targeting recruiters, a maximum resume length of no more than two pages is preferable. If you can get your document down to a single page (while still providing enough compelling details to spur further interest), even better. Many job seekers planning an aggressive search will be well served by creating two different versions of their resume:
- A detailed, keyword-rich, and accomplishments-packed document for employers; and
- A hard-hitting, abbreviated version for recruiters.
For the latter version, you will need to be brutal in your editing. Pare down or eliminate your opening resume profile, cut your “Expertise” section, minimize your job descriptions, and combine your top accomplishments into three or four bullets for your most recent experience. You can group older experience into an “Early Career” section, providing just a few key details to save space.
About the author Karen Hofferber is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and senior resume writer at ResumePower.com. Changing careers? See The Career Change Resume by Kim Isaacs and Karen Hofferber for help. You can contact Karen at ResumePower.com.