Get your Resume Noticed by Mastering the Numbers.
Does your resume lack numbers, percentages and ratios?
Are you looking for ways to get your CV noticed?
Resumes that use numbers are 60% more likely to be noticed by hiring managers.
In this article, you’ll learn how to make an achievement oriented resume using numbers.
Look at your watch. How long did that take? A few seconds? That’s about the same amount of time a hiring manager will take to look at your resume before they decide to dig deeper or burn it forever. Competition is tight, resources are light and hiring managers have the very difficult job of wading through a lot of garbage resumes. So if you really want to have a fighting chance, you need to make sure your resume stands out as an instant winner.
Now, to be clear, there are lot’s of ways a resume can stand out. It could have a killer design. Maybe it’s a slick web-based resume. Or, perhaps it’s the same kind of measurable, achievement oriented resume I’m going to be telling you about today. To make a resume like this work, it’s all in the numbers. But numbers come in many shapes and sizes, and, in this case, they need to be accompanied by just the right words to make your resume worthy of more than a few seconds. Let’s dive in.
Time is on Your Side
Life is a numbers game, so why would that stop at your resume? Specifically, using time to frame your experience is a great way to get people to think differently about you and what you’ve accomplished in your career. As many people are, you might be faced with the challenge of having less than perfect experience for the job you are applying for.
But, with some clever use of the time variable, you might be able to consolidate experience from several jobs into a cohesive statement by looking for a through-line. If you’ve got 2 years in marketing, 3 in sales, and 2 more in customer service, why not consolidate that into 7 years of project management experience? If you apply this logic to your entire work history, you’d be surprised how many through-lines you can come up with. Notice how this isn’t at all deceitful, either. It’s just about using variable of time to frame your experience in a different way.
Besides that, there are a few other simple things you can do by using time to frame your experience. You can give people a quantified time frame of how long you worked on certain projects, especially if you were able to shorten a project’s lead time significantly. Maybe your actions kept a client around for a longer term than otherwise would’ve been?
If you know your way around photoshop, you could also make some timelines or graphs to create an added visual reference to grab people’s attention. Nice. And if you can’t do graphics, fear not, there are plenty of resources around the web offering free resume templates. Here’s one I’ve used in the past: Hloom Professional Resume Templates.
Give 110 Percent to Your Resume
For marketing people, this one is a no brainer. But time and time again, I edit the resume of marketing professionals who have forgotten to include anything statistically measurable on their resumes. If you are a marketing person, you should be setting goals and delivering on a percentage those goals literally at all times. So instead of listing yourself as a “social media guru” (which, by the way, is a terrible cliche anyways), you should say that you “increased social media followers across all platforms by 25% in one year.” Saying the percent here is better than the actual number, unless that number is big and beautiful.
This is a slight tangent, but I should also point out that, in the above statement, you could also include information about how you did it by adding a phrase like, “…by using a targeted, demographically influenced approach.” If you did that, you’d have one sentence that highlights 4 different professional traits: goal orientation, knowledge of statistics, social media expertise, and market analysis ability. But more than that, you would have demonstrated those skills by talking about something you did rather than just list the skills. This is hugely important because it serves to validate your accomplishments as actually having happened.
Percentages don’t just work for marketing people either – they could be applied in many different ways. Operations managers could talk about how much they increased productivity or how much they decreased waste. HR managers could talk about their retention rates or virtually any other HR metric that can have a percentage attached to it. As always, remember to “show it” rather than “tell it” just like in the above example.
The Almighty Dollar
If you’re in sales, dollar amounts can help hiring managers hone in on your sales achievement. Truth be told, I rarely work on a resume where a sales person has omitted their achievement amount (or percentage, if the amount is less than amazing). What I do often see, however, is that there is little attempt to highlight these numbers on the resume. If your resume is a sea of black text on a white page, it might be time to consider updating your design or looking at some templates for inspiration. Don’t push it too far though, nothing with flashing lights or anything.
With money in mind, there might be a few other ideas for your resume. Maybe you saved your company a bunch of money with some extraordinary plan? Perhaps you were able to complete a “wine” project on “beer” money (that analogy works here doesn’t it? I’m sure you get it). And unless you live in North Korea (shout out to the Supreme Leader), money is something that everybody can immediately contextualize in their minds; that includes hiring managers when they are scanning your resume.
Graphs and Graphics and Tables – Oh My
Earlier I alluded to the use of graphs when you are trying to convey a timeline, but graphs and graphics of all kinds can be used to represent numbers in a very tangible way that gets hiring managers all hot and bothered. There’s ton of stuff you can do when presenting your work experience visually with images.
One idea that comes to mind is using a bar graph to present your skills section. So rather than just simply listing your skills, you could make a well designed chart that also shows the number of years you have been honing that skill. The possibilities are virtually endless. If you need some inspiration, here’s a nice little post all about data visualization.
Don’t Go Overboard
I want to remind you that you should always make sure to pump the breaks a bit so that you don’t go overboard trying to make the numbers jump off the page. It can become tempting to try to quantify every single aspect of your work experience – do not do this! To understand why, think of this analogy: imagine watching a presentation in which the presenter only talked in terms of the numbers.
The same part of our brain that is responsible for numbers is responsible for logic. So numbers can indeed make your presentation or your resume more logical and easy to follow, but without the context given by other relevant information, you’d had a pretty boring presentation and, of course, a pretty boring resume. Balance is the key, as with all things in life. Meditate on these teachings young one.
Did I miss anything? Feel free to tell me on LinkedIn or comment below!