Think Like a Manager: Resume Bullets, Part 2

You Need to Take A Hiring Perspective

Resume bullets
Think like a manager

By Liam Hickey, Guest Contributor

Last time in Resume Bullets: Factual Bragging, we talked about writing effective resume bullets. Now, we’re going to expand on the part about how to think like a manager. The way we think affects everything we do … and the results we get.

Think Like a Manager: What Managers Want

So, how do you think like a manager? What do managers want and need? I am going to repeat a list from last time using different words, because it is essential to understand. Many managers work 60+ hours per week, so take a moment to put yourself in their shoes.

Managers want people who:

  • reduce workload or make things more efficient,
  • increase customer satisfaction,
  • generate more business,
  • improve communication, or
  • otherwise reduce your boss’s stress level or hours worked.

How have you done these? Take a moment to brainstorm. It doesn’t matter if something seems trivial or routine to you, like saying, “I did that all the time. That was the job.” Those routine things you did made a difference to someone else.

Ask yourself, “How did my tasks fit into the organization’s big picture?” “How did it help the company or the customers?” This demonstrates that you understand business. Here is an example of a resume bullet before and after:

  • Before: Posted flyers to advertise new neighborhood restaurant
  • After: Increased sales by 20% during lunchtime shift by designing and distributing 400 flyers to 10 target locations over 2 months to attract a new customer demographic

I imagine this person going around to 10 nearby locations twice per month, dropping off 10 flyers per location per visit. That’s not a lot of work, which in this case is good. Combine a minimal amount of work with a 20% increase in sales. Managers love that. He was effective.

Are you beginning to think like a manager?

Constructing resume bullets – reviewed

Notice the 2 parts of the “after” bullet above:

  1. business result (% increase in sales)
  2. … by doing the task (with more numbers)

You probably have “the task” on your resume already, but you still have to determine the numbers to add. Get a friend to ask you questions about how many orders, how long they took, and how much money was involved. (Review the previous post about numbers stopping the eye. Without those, your resume gets passed over, regardless of how good you are.)

I refer to resumes as factual bragging. Showing the business benefits and numbers are critical. I’ll repeat the formula using different words. To phrase a resume bullet properly:

  1. Give the benefit to the business, customer, team, or manager with context and numbers (percentages, dollar amounts, work hours, customer ratings, and so on).  If you don’t know them, research them.
  2. State what you did with more numbers to provide some detail.

Help the reader imagine you doing these things and why they mattered. If you back up what you did with the details, you become impressive … and only impressive candidates get interviews.

The view from the other side

Why is all of this necessary? It’s because hiring managers and recruiters have different perspectives on this process than you do.

Hiring managers and recruiters invest themselves when hiring someone. The recruiters stake their performance reviews and bonuses on the candidates they recommend. Managers add to their 60-hour workweeks to interview people they need to do the work that isn’t getting done. Hiring the wrong person is a big deal. It costs a huge amount in time, energy, and money.

If a company hires someone who doesn’t perform well, there is a big decision to make: train the person more (lost productivity) or replace the person (start over). Replacing an experienced person can cost up to $100,000 in recruiting, interviewing time, and lost productivity. Replacing someone you just hired can feel like a failure. You see the dilemma. Employers want a candidate who is “a slam dunk.”

No matter how good your bullets sound, though, a typo can be the kiss of death. Have someone check your grammar and spelling … someone with an eye for detail.

In these two blog posts, I hope you found that missing element you have been looking for. Now, it’s your turn. Make it happen.

strong>Liam Hickey is a career coach, English teacher, writer, and editor. For over 15 years, he has helped candidates find career opportunities, write resumes, and prepare for interviews. He has written a book on job searching—Hold My Hand! … and find me a job (forthcoming)—and started his own business. He now helps business executives and other professionals improve their communication skills for international business and careers.

The initial version of this article originally appeared in DC Life Magazine, April 2012, pp. 20 – 21.

Liam can be reached at



Image courtesy of ADAMR /


2 thoughts on “Think Like a Manager: Resume Bullets, Part 2”

  1. Pingback: Resume Bullets: Factual Bragging - Business English HQ

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