Bulleted vs. Narrative Resumes

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Many job candidates struggle with trying to decide on which resume type to use and whether to use the bulleted or narrative style when writing the resume. The bulleted style resume allows for one or two quick sentences per bullet point. The narrative resume includes entire paragraphs referencing a job candidate’s experience, qualifications and educational background. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of both writing styles can help you develop a resume that gets you noticed by employers and an interview.

Bulleted Resume Advantages

The biggest advantage to using bullets in a resume is that it is visually appealing to recruiters. Bullet points allow you to highlight important details that you want recruiters to see quickly. According to Katharine Hansen of Quint Careers, employers rank the lack of bullet points as one of main factors in determining whether to discard a resume. If used properly, bullets in a resume are beneficial because it draws the attention of the reader to the employee's most valuable traits and skills.

Bulleted Resume Disadvantages

Bullets make it easier for an employer to read a resume, but the disadvantage of using bullets is that they are often improperly used. Some job candidates choose to use bullet points for nearly every sentence, which makes reading the resume overwhelming for the employer. Donald Burns of the Ladders states that using too many bullet points in a resume prevents the really important information from standing out. He recommends job candidates use bullets to bring attention to the most important details.

Narrative Resume Advantages

A narrative resume incorporates a more conversational tone than the bulleted resume. One advantage of the narrative resume is that it allows recruiters to obtain a better understanding of who you are as a job candidate. It paints a picture of your past professional experiences and, if written correctly, allows the employer to picture you in the new position. The narrative resume includes many details that the bulleted resume fails to mention.

Narrative resumes are especially beneficial for executives with long career histories because it allows them to focus on details relevant to the job they are seeking and exclude information not deemed important.

Narrative Resume Disadvantages

The primary disadvantage of the narrative resume is that it slows down the reading time, which allows the recruiter to quickly lose interest. Many employers spend just a few seconds scanning a resume before moving on to the next one. In those few seconds, a job candidate’s resume must catch the attention of the recruiter to make him want to schedule an interview. Narrative resumes make it more difficult for recruiters to notice your most valuable skills and experiences because of the density of information presented.

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