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The Bullet Point Formula for your resume: the 8 Minute Resume Tutorial Part II

After you list the company name where you worked, employment dates and your title for each role, the bullet points should be distributed  as follows: 


It's important to note that this distribution is across each job or title, not company. So if you've been at the same company for 20 years, you should be splitting up your 30 bullet points across the different job levels and titles you've had.

The basic structure of a marketing bullet point is a success verb and a number.

Every bullet point in your success resume must include a number expressed in dollars, percentages, or a simple, "plain old", and straight-up number.

Success Verbs Rule

Every bullet point in your resume must include a success verb. These are verbs that show success - something got better. So verbs such as increased, decreased, improved, reduced, etc. are what we are looking for.

Explicitly forbidden are static verbs -- "managed", "my responsibilities included", "I was hired to...” etc. Verbs that merely describe a fact of the matter rather than show you in a heroic light.

Now with more time, we might get into a host of other success verbs, but we've only got 8 minutes, so we am limiting the scope below. You are going to copy and paste these exact 8 bullets into the section describing your first job and your second job. You are going to pick 4 from this list for each of your next three jobs.

None of the three layers of recruiters or reviewers are grading you for verbal creativity.  Don't spend alot of time being creative or looking for cute phrases.  Unless you are applying to be a thesaurus writer, nobody cares how clever your success verbs are. 

So with that, here are your 8 bullet points for your 8-minute resume:

1. Increased x by %
2. Decreased x by %
3. Improved x by $
4. Reduced x by $
5. Introduced new x that led to # more....
6. Removed old x that led to # less...
7. Successfully added # new x....
8. Achieved the removal of # new x...

You can copy and paste these bullet points into your resume and then fill in the blanks.

"x" can be profits, costs, clients, vendors, products, practice areas, strategies, risk, volatility, etc.

And, of course, it's important to have a number, dollar, or percentage increase / decrease mentioned in each bullet point.

You'll be surprised at how many you can write using this template, and how this process jogs your memory for all the great work you have done.  

You may suddenly notice that you brought some amazing non-quantified value to the organization and can do it again.  You may have introduced Agile Development, brought innovative logistics strategies and reorganized selling methodology.

Those are impressive and important achievements. Tell us about these.

But they are only impressive and important to the extent they are quantifiable. New methodologies, exhibiting leadership, or bringing innovation to a company are interesting to your bosses' bosses only to the extent they improve, quantifiably, the outcome of the company -- more users, more revenue, faster turnaround, higher client satisfaction.

Overall, the above outline is remarkably simple because the job search process, despite all the anxiety and confusion, is remarkably simple.

You likely want to do work similar to the work you've done before but at a new place and a new level or you are looking for a way to transfer your past skills to a future opportunity.

To do so, you need to explain to new people what can give them confidence that you will be able to contribute to the new team. The easiest way to do that is to share numerical data that show you have contributed in the past and can, therefore, contribute in the future.

Your audience

Your resume is a marketing document that needs to impress three people to get you your interview. A screener or an ATS, a hiring manager and usually the manager or supervisor you would be working with.  There may be even more layers but this is just a basic.  

A junior resume screener who is comparing your resume to a list of skills, titles, or companies that he or she is given by the recruiter may discard your resume if it is overly clever or has cutesy positioning. They will not likely understand the nod and the wink that comes with writing "Chief Bottle Washer" when you really mean "Co-Founder".    

For these reviewers or the ATS system, the choice of phrases in the professional summary is especially important.  Some job seekers use a unique sense of humor to show that they are personable but it can backfire.  Wait until you are hired and for people get to know you before you lead off with a joke or statement that may offend people.  Avoid all forms of humor or ‘goofiness’ during this process.

A recruiter, whether internal or external, who, on average, will give your resume 6 -10 seconds first screening. And then maybe he or she will spend 2 - 3 minutes with it to make sure you're worth presenting to the client or hiring manager. By giving them easy-to-digest numbers they can share with the client or hiring manager, you make it much easier to present you, rather than some other candidate, for the interview.

The hiring manager who will be interested in finding out "what can this person do for me and my team in the next year or two"  will review your resume in more detail. He or she will be looking for indications that you have previously solved the types of problems this job will have to deal with.

Your goal is to quantifiably prove that you can.

Numbers are the most persuasive friends you have in this situation. Every bullet point spent on describing historical circumstances, promotions, or scope of responsibilities is wasted and lost on a hiring manager.

By following the above, you'll be in a much, much better place than with other methods of do-it-yourself resumes. Of course, there's a lot of nuance that 8 minutes can't get you, but the above is ⅔ of the way there.

Be sure to read Part I:  Marketing yourself in the job search:  Part I of the 8 Minute Tutorial click here.