You probably don’t need anyone to tell you how important your resume is. It’s the who, what, when, where, why, and how of you and your career—all curated to show whoever reads it that you should be their next employee. And your bullet points are the primary vehicle for all that key info. So you want to make sure they’re finely tuned and powerful enough to get you where you need to go.
But how many bullet points do you need? And where do they go—should you keep them just in your experience section or can you use them throughout your resume? And how do you make sure you’re writing bullet points that will wow the hiring manager and send them rushing to schedule an interview?
How many bullet points should you put under each job on your resume?
As a general rule of thumb, you should stick to “four to seven bullets and no longer than two lines each,” for the most recent entries on your resume, says Muse coach Tara Goodfellow, owner of Athena Consultants. But there’s a bit more nuance involved in making your resume as strong as possible. So consider these tips when deciding how many bullet points to put under each entry in your experience section:
- Your most recent jobs should generally get the most bullet points—specifically your current role and the one just prior to it. These jobs will usually be the most relevant to the role you’re pursuing. As you go further back, use fewer bullet points for each job, Goodfellow says. You might even choose to include zero bullets for some positions.
- Consider how long you were in each position. “I have seen clients with 10 years in a role with two bullets (too few) and people in a role for not even a year and looks like they’ve copied and pasted the job description,” Goodfellow says. If you haven’t been in a role for very long, chances are you just don’t have as much to say about what you’ve achieved.
- Every bullet point should have its own purpose and show a different skill or achievement you’d bring to the role. So don’t spend multiple bullets showing off the same achievements, but also don’t make your bullets too dense or long by trying to cram too much into each one.
- Don’t age yourself. Unfortunately, older workers can be subject to hiring discrimination if employers think they may be too expensive, leave a role quickly, or need to do a lot of catching up on technical skills. One quick way to age-proof your resume is to only list bullet points for jobs you’ve held in the past 10 to 15 years. “Beyond that, I’ll list ‘Additional Professional Experience’ with just the title/company and no dates and no bullets,” Goodfellow says. Or you might choose to omit these experiences altogether.
- Consider your personal situation. These are just guidelines–you can bend or ignore them if your specific circumstances call for it. For example, if you’ve had a highly technical or scientific role, you may need more (or longer) bullets to fully show what you bring to the table, Goodfellow says. Or maybe a job you had further back in your career adds more value to your application than your current role, so you want to limit the bullet points for your current role and include more for that relevant role.
Where else can you use bullet points on your resume?
Most of your bullet points will be in your experience section, but you can also incorporate bullet points into your:
- Header: Use bullets to separate out different parts of your contact info.
- Resume summary: If you need to make a few key points about yourself as a professional, you can do that with bullets.
- Skills section: It’s common to use bullets to list out different skills or categories of skills.
- Education section: Recent grads looking to include some information about coursework, honors, or relevant projects can use bullet points here, much like you would for a job.
- Other experience (for example, volunteer work, projects, or certifications): Just as you would in a work experience section, use bullets here to emphasize qualifications are relevant to the job.
Tips for writing strong resume bullet points
Looking for more tips on how to write your resume bullet points? Check out these articles.
- Write bullet points that showcase achievements rather than list job duties.
- Use numbers to quantify your past experiences and achievements as much as possible.
- Start your bullet points with strong action verbs.
- Tailor your bullet points for every job you apply to.
- Incorporate keywords from the job description when relevant.
- Choose standard bullet point styles—squares, hyphens, or circles.
- Use consistent capitalization, verb tenses, and punctuation for all your bullet points.