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MBA Career Advice: The Art of the Bullet

In this weekly series, our friends at MBA Career Coaches will be dispensing invaluable advice to help you actively manage your career. Topics include building your network, learning from mistakes and setbacks, perfecting your written communication, and mastering even the toughest interviews. 

For a resume to be effective, it needs to be constructed in a clear and consistent way and the content (bullets!) needs to be brief and easily “digestible.” What do we mean by “digestible?” We mean that the bullets under each professional, educational or personal entry must have the following attributes:

Brief: No more than two lines
Attention grabbing: start each bullet with an action verb
Reveal that you took initiative: Prove that you did something
Show a compelling result: You did not just do something – you did it well and can prove it!

Let’s take a look at the following resume bullet:

  • Responsible for the leadership of our firm’s summer internship recruiting program for more than 20 sophomore and juniors from ten schools across the United States and two international school

Does this bullet reveal any of the attributes that we just highlighted? It is not brief. It is not attention grabbing. It does not reveal initiative. It does not show a result. And… This is the way that most bullets are written! What is the problem with this bullet? This internship program could have been a raging success, but the reader does not know that and even if he/she did know that, “responsible for” does not reveal that the applicant led the program to success. What if our bullet read like this?

  • Recruited 20 summer interns from domestic and international undergraduate business schools, 18 of whom were extended full time offers

The bullet above is brief. It starts with an action: “recruited”. It shows that the applicant took initiative. And, the results are very clear: he/she recruited well, because many were asked to return to the firm full time. Follow these rules and your bullets will make statements about you and your resume will do its job.




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