How to Ethically Steal Bullets from Job Ads

Every part of your resume is important. 


Except the section about your “Hobbies”. Employers don’t care that you enjoy knitting at night or playing Xtreme Frisbee. Remove it!


But the rest of it is usually necessary, with some debate on Objective and References.


But there are two sections of your resume that are particularly important to give some extra attention to. They are:


  • Summary of Qualifications (which should technically replace Objective)
  • Professional Experience (or past employment)


These are the main sections employers and recruiters quickly scan to see if you’re an initial fit, on paper at least. 


That’s why the standard became bullets. 


Whether you’re reading resumes or reports, bullets are easy to read and scan. 


Just as its become the norm for most resumes, its become the norm for most job ads. 


In the same way a hiring manager can quickly scan a resume to assess a job seeker, a job seeker can quickly scan a job ad to assess an employer’s requirements and qualifications. 


And it’s all through the wonderful magic of bullets!


So how do you craft the perfect bullet points on your resume?


You steal them directly from the job ad, ethically of course!


And then you tweak them to fit your experience.


Allow us to illustrate:


Example 1:

You’re applying for a job as a Security Guard with Company Y.


Their job ad:

  • Knowledge of the client’s policies and procedures
  • Knowledge of relevant criminal codes and by-laws
  • Ensuring the safety and security of the property and its occupants
  • Identifying and reporting Safety Hazards


Your resume:

Security Guard, Company X, Jan 2021 – Nov 2023

  • Quickly learned and understood company policies and procedures within days of starting the job
  • Studied relevant criminal codes and by-laws to enforce any infractions on site 
  • Always placing the safety and security of the property and its occupants above all else
  • Identifying and reporting Safety Hazards in order to prevent serious events from occurring 


As you can see, in this example it’s less about accomplishments and more about responsibilities. We leave the keywords to match (policies, procedures, criminal codes, by-laws, safety, security, property, occupants, reporting safety hazards).


But we add a little extra to elaborate on the specific responsibilities.


Here’s another example where we can identify and add accomplishments based on the job ad:


Example 2

You’re applying for a job as a Software Engineer at Company Z. 


Their job ad:

  • Designing, coding, unit testing and integrating new features and functionality as defined by the PO and team
  • Applying creative problem solving that bring software designs to life.
  • You will build best in class apps, APIs and data solutions to drive projects
  • Promoting agile principles and methodology
  • Participating in ideation and brainstorming sessions to devise creative and exciting digital solutions. We need and value fresh ideas!
  • Performing various investigative “Spikes” in order to mitigate technical uncertainty and risk
  • Assisting in the development of automated test harnesses as necessary to ensure delivery of high quality code
  • Updating progress daily through the tracking tool (Jira) or Kanban board
  • Completing and being responsible for completion of any required documentation required e.g. deployment, maintenance, support and business needs

Your resume: (*as part of Summary of Qualifications or Professional Experience or both!)

  • Collaborated with Product Owners and team members to design, code, perform unit testing, and integrate new features and functionalities into software applications.
  • Applied creative problem-solving skills to bring software designs to life and deliver best-in-class apps, APIs, and data solutions that drive project success.
  • Championed agile principles and methodologies to promote efficient and effective software development practices.
  • Contributed to brainstorming sessions to devise innovative digital solutions and provided valuable, fresh ideas.
  • Conducted investigative “Spikes” to mitigate technical uncertainty and risk and ensure successful project outcomes.
  • Developed automated test harnesses to ensure the delivery of high-quality code and assisted in their implementation as necessary.
  • Tracked daily progress using tools such as Jira or Kanban board and communicated updates to stakeholders.
  • Completed all necessary documentation, including deployment, maintenance, support, and business needs, to ensure project success and compliance.


Again, here too you should be able to see many of the same keywords from the job ad (design, code, unit testing, best-in-class, API’s, agile principles, investigative “spikes”, test harnesses, etc, etc)


Here’s one more example for a Manager’s role. 


Example 3

You’re applying for a job as a Production Manager for a manufacturing company.


Their job ad:

  • Ensure all production targets are being met throughout shifts; analyze and correct shortfalls with immediate actions.
  • Lead, promote and recommend improvement initiatives including health and safety, people, processes, and equipment/machinery and ensure plant improvement initiatives are implemented and sustained regularly.
  • Collaborate with workers and managers to reduce downtime, maintain efficient use of labour, and achieve objectives set for the plant.
  • Provide and replace operator’s tools and equipment as required to keep morale and production efficiency.
  • Conduct daily pre/post-shift communications and transition with other shift supervisors.
  • Proactively identifies and elevates issues with a recommended solution appropriately to senior management.
  • Work in partnership with the Maintenance department to assist in prevention / rectification of breakdowns.


Your resume (*again as part of your opening Summary section or within your relevant Professional Experience):

  • Ensured achievement of production targets throughout shifts by analyzing and correcting shortfalls with immediate actions.
  • Led, promoted, and recommended improvement initiatives for health and safety, people, processes, and equipment/machinery to ensure plant improvement initiatives were implemented and sustained regularly.
  • Collaborated with workers and managers to reduce downtime, maintain efficient use of labor, and achieve objectives set for the plant.
  • Provided and replaced operator’s tools and equipment as required to maintain morale and production efficiency.
  • Conducted daily pre/post-shift communications and transitions with other shift supervisors to ensure smooth operations.
  • Proactively identified and elevated issues with recommended solutions to senior management for appropriate action.
  • Worked in partnership with the Maintenance department to prevent and rectify breakdowns, ensuring smooth plant operations.


Remember, it doesn’t have to be verbatim and you don’t have to use or match every bullet. 


You can focus on what you see as the most important ones (so long as your matching experience is legit!). 


Keep any exaggerations or outright lies out of your resume. It’s not worth being called out!


While these examples focus on lateral moves (applying to similar jobs rather than moving “up the ladder”), you can apply this concept of connecting experience through keywords for all types of job applications, including those that present opportunities for vertical mobility.


Here’s an example of that.


Example 4 

You’re a Construction Foreman applying for a Superintendent role.


Their job ad:

  • Managing and supervising all construction site activities on a 3-year high rise development
  • Providing supervision of construction staff and sub-trade staff and providing safety leadership
  • Maintain the construction schedule and identifying deficiencies or issues
  • Maintaining an organized, clean, and efficient multifamily job site, while ensuring compliance with all safety policies and procedures
  • Contributing to a culture of professional project delivery by establishing behavioral guidelines, best practices, and a system of accountability


Your resume: 

  • Supervised and coordinated the activities of construction workers and subcontractors
  • Ensured that all work was completed safely, on time, and within budget
  • Maintained an organized, clean, and efficient job site, and ensured that all safety policies and procedures were followed
  • Monitored the quality of work being performed and addressed any issues that arose
  • Maintained the construction schedule and identified and addressed any delays or issues that may impact the project timeline
  • Ordered and managed the delivery of materials and equipment needed for the project
  • Communicated with project managers and other stakeholders to provide updates on the project status and address any concerns or issues that may arise
  • Trained and mentored new construction workers and subcontractors to ensure that they were able to perform their duties safely and effectively.


In this example there’s a little more. That’s because in cases of vertical mobility — especially when wanting to move up the ranks of management — it’s a good idea to provide more examples of your various roles and responsibilities to demonstrate your experience. 


Employers want to feel confident they can put major responsibilities in your hands. You need to give them that confidence, first through your resume, then through an interview. 


And here too, while the experience may not always be a direct match (after all, you’ve never been in the role yet), the keywords are all there (supervised, monitored, maintained schedule, safety policies, compliance, etc). 


It is crucial to ethically match job ad requirements with your own résumé’s past work experience because it ensures that you are presenting yourself as a qualified and suitable candidate for the role. 


When you align your past roles and responsibilities with the job ad requirements, you demonstrate that you have the necessary skills, experience, and qualifications to perform the job effectively. And equally important and often overlooked, you demonstrate that you thoroughly read the job’s requirements. 


This not only increases your chances of being selected for an interview but also helps to establish your credibility and professionalism as a candidate. 


Finally, commit to always being honest about your past work experience. Avoid exaggerating or misrepresenting your qualifications. 


Through your résumé’s bullets, you can demonstrate you’re right for the roles you’re applying to. 


It can take some patience, but you will hear back.



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