Writing Techniques Style Improvements Using Bullet Points in Your Cover Letter

Using Bullet Points in Your Cover Letter

Using Bullet Points in Your Cover Letter

A cover letter is an opportunity, so make the most of it. Use it to show your potential employer how you’ll be an asset to their team in a way that your resume can’t.

Think of your cover letter as a highlight reel that communicates your standout qualities. Displaying those highlights as bullet points is an effective technique, but be mindful to keep the number of bullet points reasonable. If you use more than 10 bullet points in your cover letter, it starts to read like an impersonal list or shortened version of your resume, rather than a chance for you to dive deeper into your background and experience.

## Why Use Bullet Points in Your Cover Letter?

While you don't want to overuse bullet points in your cover letter, you may choose to include some. Bullet points aren’t a “must-have” for cover letters, but they do serve a purpose. Employers are busy. They need to be able to recognize important information quickly when reading through piles of applications. When you use bullet points in your letter, you help expedite the application-reading process by making your important information obvious and accessible.

What Information Should You Present in Your Bullet Points?

Take the time to review the job posting carefully. Find ways to make specific connections between your experience or professional characteristics and what the position requires. It might help to write down some keywords from the job qualifications to help you make those relevant connections.

Determine which connections work best to show that you’re a great fit for the position. Craft those connections into concise bullet points.

Make sure each bullet point conveys a distinct professional quality, asset, or accomplishment. Avoid repeating similar content in different bullet points or information already available in your resume.

How to Organize Bullet Points in Your Cover Letter

Your cover letter should start with an introductory paragraph. Then, consider which of your bullet points belong together. For example, your bullet points might

  • state how your specific experience uniquely qualifies you for the position, or
  • show how previous accomplishments relate to/predict success in the position, or
  • demonstrate how your professional ethos matches the one this company holds

Group relevant points together. As you organize your letter into paragraphs, determine which groupings belong where.

Make sure your bullet points are parallel (follow the same grammatical pattern) and share the same verb tense. For cover letters, a good practice is to start each point with an action verb. For example,

  • Negotiated lucrative agreements with top clients
  • Developed hands-on curricula that enhanced student learning
  • Cultivated a healthy work environment resulting in increased productivity

An example of non-parallel bullet points might look like this:

  • Negotiated lucrative agreements with top clients
  • I am skilled at developing creative curricula to enhance student learning
  • Colleagues showed increased productivity as a result of my initiative to create a healthy work environment.

Do you hear the difference? The first set has a smooth grammatical rhythm that flows and is easy to read. The non-parallel version is difficult to read and sounds clumsy rather than professional.

Your Cover Letter Should Show How You Stand Out

With your cover letter, your goal is to show the potential employer how you stand out from the rest of the applicants. As you develop your bullet-pointed highlights remember to

  • be moderate: do not exceed 10 bullet points
  • be selective: choose to highlight accomplishments and experience most relevant to the job
  • be distinctive: let each point highlight something unique and specific that isn’t already included on your resume