Make Your Resume Bullets READABLE with Career Protocol’s High School Test

If you want a strong resume for your MBA candidacy or job application, then you absolutely have to pay attention to the content of your resume bullets. Your resume will only demonstrate your full potential if your bullets are written in clear and specific language that crosses industry and function. Our Resume Protocol High School Test will help you bring all of your bullets up to that important standard, so keep reading for more rules on how to write the best possible MBA resume!

Writing Readable Bullets

Now that you’ve gotten the skinny on MBA resume formatting (or if you haven’t, you definitely should), it’s time to talk more about the art of the bullet. The strength of an MBA resume bullet depends entirely on the comprehensibility of its content. But that seems pretty obvious, right? The reader (adcom, HR department, recruiter) can only appreciate your amazing achievements if they can grasp what the heck you’re actually talking about.

In order to create a compelling MBA Resume you first need to understand good communication.

Let’s say you’re an engineer and you’re looking to transition to a role in finance. Does your future employer care about all the different computer languages you can program in? Probably not, unless you’ll be required to use them in your finance role. Does a bschool admissions committee member understand (or care about) all the technical nuances of that product you launched? No again.

It’s one thing to have great ideas, great experiences, and meaningful accomplishments. Those phenomena are between you and yourself. But when your task is to communicate those things to other people, you need to think about the rules of good communication.

Human interaction

It would serve you well to think about how the world of knowledge and experience you have overlaps with each and every other person’s world of knowledge and experience by only a tiny percent, as this diagram suggests.

You are a universe unto yourself, and what you have in common with everyone else is actually less than you might think if you really look at it. When it comes to expressing yourself, it’s both a privilege and a responsibility to make sure you are understood by others – especially those who might admit you to their program or give you a job.

Good communication happens at the intersection of the speaker and the listener.

It takes two to tango. This means you need to think about who you are speaking to (or writing for) when you craft your resume. You need to think about the audience. (This advice has implications for every single form of communication, by the way. Even when introducing yourself at networking events, these concepts can come in handy.)

But as far as resumes go, the two key principles to keep in mind are:

  1. Make it easy to read (we covered that in this article on MBA resume formatting!)
  2. Make it easy to understand

The Career Protocol High School Test is a failsafe way to ensure that the content of your resume bullets will land with any reader – no matter whose desk your MBA resume lands on!

The High School Test

Your resume will pass the High School Test if an intelligent high schooler with no specific training in your industry or field of study could understand every word on it AND the meaning and significance behind each and every achievement it lists.

To achieve this level of readability, omit the names of software systems, analytical frameworks, protocols, and the specific words your firm uses for processes that no one else knows.

Let’s look at some examples of High School Test fails and passes. The following examples aren’t necessarily complete bullets (that’s not the point just yet), but pay attention to how easy – or not – the content is to understand.

High School Test Fail:

  • Spearheaded cross-business unit engagement for NTY video initiative

High School Test Pass:

  • Spearheaded cross-functional team of seven to implement a new video streaming platform

See how any high schooler can understand what video streaming is, whereas “NTY” is anyone’s guess?

High School Test Fail:

  • Led the Unified Communication Scalability initiative on the new 5427 router, coordinated the development, testing and marketing effort to enhance and ensure UC application performance on the most powerful platform of NTY to date.

High School Test Pass:

  • Coordinated development, testing, and marketing efforts for a groundbreaking new Wi-Fi product

Look at how much unnecessary verbiage we removed to turn this into something a high school student could grasp!!

High School Test Fail:

  • Performed several analytical, substantive and internal control tests, including analytical tests on ACL (Audit Command Language)

High School Test Pass:

  • Performed senior duties as an associate and coordinated financial statement audit engagements for companies in 11 different industries

The high school test mandates a “need to know” approach.

Audit Command Language (above) is jargon that adds no meaning to the bullet. Get rid of those highly technical, specialized terms, and replace them with general concepts anyone can understand –  because that is all they will “need to know” to comprehend the scope and scale of the accomplishment.

If the reader is alienated by your use of jargon and your inability to communicate yourself in terms that anyone can understand, you won’t have the chance to impress them with what you have achieved.

Much like resume formatting, think of your resume vocabulary as a kind of gateway to the real substance – the results – housed in your resume. On both counts, you want that gate to be wiiiiide open. Think of things like technical jargon, industry-specific terminology, and obsolete or incorrect phrasing as the bars of a closed gate. They prevent your reader from reaching exactly what it is you want them to get. Clear, concise language and universal terms, on the other hand, invite your reader to appreciate all the high points of your professional and personal record.

That’s it for the High School Test, folks!! To keep the MBA Resume Protocol pointers going, read all about how to make your resume bullets meaningful with our Career Protocol CEO Test – that’s where the art of the bullet really gets real.

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Picture of Angela Guido

Angela Guido

Student of Human Nature| Founder and
Chief Education Officer of Career Protocol

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