Bullet points vs paragraphs in a resume

The question mentioned in the header of this article is extremely relevant for everyone who wants to draft a resume and apply for a new job. The community of professional recruiters and career experts has two answers for it. The first recommends using bullet points and the second one – paragraphs. To define the answer that is suitable individually for you, read the following information.

Bullet points on your resume: pro et contra

In spite of the fact that paragraphs are still widely used in resumes, most modern recruiters agree that bullet points are able to present the information in a more digestible way. Partially, this fact can be explained by the typical features of human psychology. People prefer reading texts that are subdivided into small structural parts. This rule is applicable not only to resumes but also to novels, scientific articles, and other texts. To better understand how your resume can benefit from using bullet points, let’s look at their main advantages.

  • Bullets make any text structured. As we have already mentioned, it is extremely important to subdivide any text in structural parts if you want people to read it. Your resume is no exception. If you submit it in form of blank text, the recruiter will likely throw it to the trash bin after a few seconds of reading. However, a structured text will definitely hold his or her attention.
  • Bullets are concise. Some jobseekers have problems with formulating their previous job duties in short and effective sentences. The use of paragraphs usually provokes them to write long and wordy explanations recruiters never read. Bullets, on the other hand, cannot have more than two rows. It means that the applicant should be concise to make the sentence fit this standard.
  • Bullets are reader-friendly. Imagine a situation when you have to hire an employee to fill up a certain vacancy. Would you read resumes formatted in blank text? Probably the answer is “No way”. People consider such resumes boring. It is not about their content, but about their formatting. They look like a typical legal document that is hard to read. Bullet points make resumes less formalized. That is why recruiters prefer them.

The above-mentioned advantages of bullet points can turn into disadvantages if you need to include as more information in your resume as possible. In such case, you should try another type of formatting and use paragraphs.

Paragraphs – a good option to say more

In spite of the fact that bullets are currently considered the golden standard of resume writing, paragraphs are still quite popular. That can be explained by the fact that they can describe any job duty in great detail. Such detailing is usually required for highly-qualified technical professionals and executive level employees. For example, project managers often shift projects and the title of their position is always the same. However, their responsibilities in various projects may differ significantly. That is why it is a good idea for them to describe each of their projects (or at least the most important of them in form of blank text paragraphs.

Actually, the number of jobseekers willing to occupy executive-level positions is always smaller than the number of candidates for professional and entry-level vacancies. It means that in such cases, recruiters have more time to read the resumes of applicants and there is no need to draft them in form of bullet points.

Combine both approaches and succeed

If you cannot choose between bullet points and paragraphs, you can try to combine these two types of formatting. This option is especially good for people who have measurable professional accomplishments. For example, if you increased the productivity by 50% in your previous position, you can present this achievement in form of a bullet point, placed under the paragraph describing your main duties in this role. Just like the previous type of formatting, this option is applicable mainly to resumes of executive-level employees, since they usually have many achievements.