Bullet points vs paragraphs in resume?


Jobseekers often ask professional resume writers and career experts whether it is necessary to use bullet points or paragraphs on their resumes. It is hard to answer this question without describing the advantages and disadvantages of both variants and their combinations.

Bullet points on your resume – be brief and concise

The Internet contains results of many researches that say recruiters prefer to read information in jobseekers resumes in form of bullet points. The most popular explanation for that says that bullet points help structuring any information. However, that is not the only advantage of bullet points. Let’s look at their full list in greater detail.

  • Structure. As already mentioned above, bullet points help structuring any information and representing it in the right order. For example, you can put bullets with the most important duties on top of the job description. Since it is logically determined, anyone who will read this description will understand the importance of first bullet points.
  • Conciseness. Bullet points make your resume concise. Jobseekers usually don’t put more than one sentence under one bullet point. It means that they have to formulate sentences in a way helping represent the full spectrum of their duties.
  • Reader-friendliness. If you ask any person which text is better for reading – a bullet-styled, or a paragraph-styled, the answer is obvious. It is always much simpler to read information in bullet points than in solid text.

Even in spite of the above-mentioned strengths, the use of bullet points on your resume has also some disadvantages. Sometimes their brief style is not exactly what you need to display all your qualifications. In such cases, it is better to use paragraphs, since they can contain more than one sentence.

Paragraphs – provide the recruiter with full information

Currently, few jobseekers draft their resumes in form of solid text paragraphs. That is because of the fact that recruiters prefer to read brief facts about candidates, not their entire biographies. However, this rule has some exceptions. For example, paragraphs are good to describe your duties in a certain position in great detail. This is a very popular option among executive-level candidates and people who conduct scientific researches.

In the two above-mentioned cases, jobseekers have to provide recruiters as many information on their projects/researches as possible, since the employer’s decision on a job offer strongly depends on the background of candidates. However, this approach is applicable only to the above-mentioned categories. If you are an entry-level applicant, it is better for you to use bullet points since they allow making the resume longer and don’t require too detailed information.

Most recruiters say that unstructured text is the biggest disadvantage of paragraphs in resumes. It is quite hard to define the most important job duties in a paragraph. Of course, you can use the same approach as you use with bullet points and put main duties at the beginning of the paragraph. However, there is no guarantee that the recruiter will understand your intent.

Combined resume structure – take the best from both approaches

If you are still not sure which approach to use on your resume, try to combine paragraphs with bullets. This advice may be useful for people who want to combine detailed descriptions of job duties with brief highlights of main accomplishments. This option is suitable both for professional and executive-level employees because all of them usually have some major achievements that are worth highlighting them on a resume.

It would be a mistake to include these accomplishments into solid paragraphs together with job duties because in such case the recruiter may simply not notice them. Including them in a common list of bullet-points is also a bad idea since it leads to the same result. That is why combining paragraphs with bullet points is a good practice in such cases. It allows you to list your major accomplishments in bullet points after describing general duties in paragraphs. Recruiters will definitely notice your achievements if you use this approach.