Your resume is the central piece of your job/internship application that summarizes your skills, education, and experience. So why settle for an okay resume when you can make a great one. One of the primary ways to make your resume stand out is the formatting of your bullet points.
To clarify, bullet points are what you use to describe each experience on your resume and they serve to provide context. Great bullet points will not just state the responsibilities that you had within each of your experiences, they will include the problem you faced, the action you took, and the results you achieved.
Don’t worry, there is a simple formula to follow. We call this the PAR method:
Action Verb + Problem + Action + Result
Let’s look at a few examples that show an okay bullet point versus a great bullet point.
Planned fundraising events to raise money towards annual trip.
Coordinated three events to raise funds to travel to annual competition in New York City. Raised more than $2,500, 20% over goal.
Worked with faculty members and administrators to lead the university-wide effort to renew the Core Curriculum.
Collaborated with 16 faculty members and administrators to lead the university-wide effort to renew the Core Curriculum, which lead to the implementation of five new courses the following semester.
Notice that each great bullet point began with a quality action verb, such as coordinated and collaborated. You want to start with an interesting verb that will catch the eye of the reader and showcase your work and contributions. We have a compiled a list of action verbs on our website for your reference.
Problem, Action, and Result:
The main difference between the two bullet points is that they expand on what the person did to illustrate the problem they faced and the results they achieved. In the first bullet point, the person did not just plan an event, they planned an event to raise money for an annual competition and they surpassed their goal by 20%. For every one of your experiences, you want to make sure you tell the full story and demonstrate the value you added to your work.
Numbers and Stats:
When possible, you want to add numbers and statistics to your bullet points. Numbers not only catch the reader’s attention when they scan your resume, they also provide context. If you raised funds, you want to make sure the reader knows it was a substantial amount of money and it was 20% over your goal. Not every bullet point will require numbers and you should never fake numbers, but make sure to include them when applicable.
This method takes some extra time to master, but it is worth it in the end. Our career coaches are available to review your resume and help you with your bullet points during drop-in hours. You can also view sample resumes on our website.
—By Allison Postlethwait, Assistant Director, Marketing and Communications