Like any other product, a successful resume has certain criteria or quality standards that need to be met. One of the most important criteria for a well written resume is that it contains achievements which are quantifiable and show results. For individuals in sales who have been instructed to keep a “brag book” over the course of their career, this might be an easy exercise. However, there are a plethora of operations and support professionals who come to me with no idea how to add numbers into their resumes.
In fact, as a Certified Professional Resume Writer who has worked with a range of professionals that spans medical staff to engineers, I would say figuring out how to define and quantify achievements for my clients might take up as much time as constructing the language and format of the resume itself. Over the course of writing thousands of resumes, I have learned some of the best ways for non-revenue generators to demonstrate benefit to their employers. If you are hitting a roadblock in this portion of your resume creation, read on for tips on how to overcome this obstacle!
1) Understand What Hiring Managers Really Care About
When I was trained in resume writing, I was told that every employer wants to know two things…“How much money can you make me?” or “How much money can you save me?” If you can communicate one or both of those things through your resume, your chances of getting called in for an interview increase significantly.
If you are reading this and thinking, “But I don’t do either of those things;” I have good news: you support someone who does.
When you describe your tenure in any position, you should think about both your biggest achievements and your daily job duties. In both instances, ask yourself, “Did this result in money made or money saved?” Even if you aren’t sure of the exact value, you will have a few examples where the answer to that question is “yes.” That is where you begin. Read on for tips in how to shape those achievements – and their corresponding numbers – for the greatest impact.
2) Talk About Revenue the Company or Sales Team Generates
You do not have to be a revenue generator to positively impact a company’s top or bottom line. If your job is a support role, you might not be able to claim “leadership” or “responsibility” for an achievement, but you can honestly say that you “contributed to” or “assisted in” a positive result.
Individuals who design, produce, package, or ship a product certainly contribute to the sale of that product. A technical professional who accompanies a sales team to demonstrate a product to the client is a vital part of landing that million-dollar contract. As a result, it is perfectly acceptable to associate your daily duties with the revenue the sales team or company brings in.
Not sure how to phrase it? Consider the following:
Online Copy Editor: Reviewed and edited copy for banner ads that generated more than $100K in annual revenue; worked with clients and in-house SEO staff to adjust content as needed to optimize their return on investment.
Quality Assurance Manager: Gathered customer feedback and worked with engineering team to address issues in production that were yielding high levels of defects and waste; corrected the problem and regained customer satisfaction, leading to contract renewals valued in excess of $6M.
Technical Support Specialist: Proved vital to sales team achieving their $5M quota by demonstrating product value and functionality for key decision makers.
3) Associate Efficiency with Cost Savings
In the age of Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing, and Kaizan/5S projects, everyone knows that companies care about efficiency. The reason they care so much of course is because of the resulting cost savings (or improvements to volume). Greater efficiency equals improved profitability. If you are part of a project or team that enhanced efficiency, you have positively impacted your company’s bottom-line.
Not sure how to phrase it? Consider the following:
Production Manager: Increased throughput of the manufacturing cycle 10% through adoption of Lean principles; eliminated thousands of dollars in overtime expense at peak seasons as a result.
Executive Assistant: Managed executive calendar efficiently and personally coordinated travel in order to minimize costs while still ensuring a positive on-the-road experience for the CEO.
One Note: In the current economic climate in the US, saving money often means off-shoring production or jobs or leveraging automation to downsize organizations. While these actions do equate to cost savings, there is a negative stigma associated with saving a company money by putting people out of work. As a result, I currently advise my clients to avoid words/phrases like “downsizing” or “eliminating FTEs” and simply discuss “labor savings” or “cost savings” without going into specifics.
4) Use General Phrases When You Don’t Know Exact Dollar Figures
One final piece of advice when adding numbers into your resume, do not be reluctant to include phrases that can take the place of exact figures. You can use phrases such as “millions of dollars” or “saved tens of thousands in labor costs” and deliver the same punch as an exact number. The important thing is that while you want to “quantify” your results, you still only want to include data in your resume that you feel comfortable discussing if asked about it in an interview.
It is also perfectly understandable if you do not know how much money a project saved, but only know that it decreased production time 20%. In most cases, employers know that time equals money. If you do not feel comfortable attaching a dollar figure (even a rough estimate) to an achievement, but you can quantify it in some other way, go ahead and do so.
by Kimberly Sarmiento