Imagine you are a corporate recruiter for a moment, deciding which resumes to pass along to the hiring manager. You’re hiring a strategic Account Manager who will own your company’s relationship with a number of important clients. You have two resumes in front of you: Joe and Sally have similar backgrounds and each has several years of experience in an Account Manager role.
Joe describes his most recent job as follows:
Sally, on the other hand, presents her experience this way:
While neither description is necessarily “perfect,” which do you think the hiring manager will find more compelling?
Creating Compelling Resume Summaries Using Evidence
Recruiters and hiring managers want to see evidence that you will bring valuable insight to the company and will be able to get up and running quickly. They need to feel confident that you will be able to do the job before they’ll hire you for it.
Since the hiring team will typically see your resume before they ever meet you, this means that your resume needs to be your first and best advocate. Fortunately, there are some simple strategies you can use to make sure your resume makes a strong case for your capabilities and experience.
In “How to Quantify Your Career-Job-Work-Life Accomplishments for Employers ,” Dr. Katharine Hansen suggests that it is key to “quantify and monetize accomplishments wherever possible,” as “[e]mployers and others who evaluate individuals based on their accomplishments love to see numbers.” Quantified accomplishments are most meaningful when provided in context, as Hansen explores with the following example:
Take this resume bullet point from a vice president of sales, for example:
Directed 12-person sales force to $15 million in sales while simultaneously bolstering sales in own territory from zero to $2.5 million.
The second half of it is excellent because it compares the zero sales initially to $2.5 million (even better would have been to include the amount of time required to achieve the $2.5 million in sales). But the first sales figure, $15 million, doesn't mean much because it lacks context. Is $15 million good? Compared to what? The job-seeker should have provided, for example, the sales figures from before he was VP of sales.
Hansen’s article also includes a handy list of metrics that will help job seekers figure out how to quantify their experience and impact, even if they are not describing a role that lends itself naturally to the language of
dollars and cents.
But speaking in metrics doesn’t always come naturally, especially when you’re trying to talk about your own accomplishments. Not sure where to begin? The article “A Simple Guide to Creating a Benefits-Driven Resume ” by Raw Resume presents a simple exercise to get you thinking about your skills and results. I’m going to present a slightly modified version of this exercise below.
A great way to create effective resume statements or bullet points is to use a spreadsheet to make a list of your skills, then relate relevant metrics to those skills. For example, Joe from our example above might start with the following skills list, based on his current resume:
If Joe isn’t sure where to start, he can also look at the skills or responsibilities section of the job description to see what skills the employer wants an Account Manager candidate to have.
Based on his review of the job description, Joe might choose to alter the phrasing of some of his skills or add additional skills to his list (changes included in italics below). Once Joe has written down all of his most relevant skills, he can then focus on the Metrics/Description column, including quantifiable results wherever possible and/or a vivid description of how he applied the skill . Feel free to include as many descriptions as possible at this stage and then make edits or omissions later.
Turns out that Joe is a pretty strong candidate after all! Now all he has to do is identify the most important metrics for each skill he wants to demonstrate and incorporate some of these numbers into his new resume! Instead of just saying “Identify upsell opportunities,” Joe might now describe his accomplishment this way:
Consistently exceeded quota by identifying and cultivating upsell opportunities. Met 123% of annual upsell quota in 2012 and 137% in 2014.
Take your time with this exercise, and keep a running list for future use. You may want to look through your old performance reviews to see how your supervisors have quantified your contributions in the past, or look through compliments from clients, supervisors, or other stakeholders to see your impact. Think about what you have been trusted to accomplish in the past, since evidence of your accomplishments can demonstrate to your potential new employer that you can be trusted to add value in their future.
How do you quantify your past successes? Add your thoughts in the comments!