Pi Day is just around the corner! And while we wait in breathless anticipation for the magical day when the calendar date aligns with the proportional relationship between the circumference of a circle and its diameter (yes we're nerds, why do you ask?), let's spend a moment talking about numbers.
As HR and management studies demonstrate, numerals, decimals, and percentages add weight to an argument presented in words. Numbers make our statements and comparisons easier to visualize. When statements can be pictured, they're easier to remember. If I told you I saw a large dog out on the sidewalk, you'd yawn. If I said I ran the marketing department for awhile, you'd nod and forget my claim by the end of the conversation. The outcome will change, however, if I told you the dog stood three feet at its shoulder; similarly, you're sure to remember my workplace history if I told you I ran the marketing department for two years, attracted eight new $50,000 accounts, and generated a 19% increase in campaign ROI.
As you look for work, the power of your claims will be your greatest tool. You'll need to make a case for yourself, and support it with numbers. In doing so, you'll stand out from competitors and make it difficult for prospective employers to forget you. Here are some things to keep in mind as you quantify your resume.
Anyone can claim; few can measure
For most candidates, especially at the entry level, accomplishments are not easy to measure. Far too often, applicants don't do it. Instead of sharing exactly how much (and how far) their actions boosted the company's bottom line, candidates prefer to hedge their claims and speak in abstractions. For example, a candidate may claim to have increased sales volume, served customers, or reduced error rates. Take your case one step further and document the specific increase in units sold, the number of customers served per day/hour, or the percentage of the error reduction. Most candidates won't bother to calculate. This simple adjustment can help you stand out.
Almost anything can be measured
Maybe your daily tasks and accomplishments are tricky to quantify. Look closer. Can you track your improvement and skill growth over time? Can you calculate the dollar value of your efforts? Here are a few examples of quantifiers that might help:
1.) The number of employees you led, trained, or hired.
2.) The time you invested in a project or position.
3.) The number of units you produced or processed.
4.) The amount of money you saved the company by solving problems and eliminating errors. Think in terms of the percentages you can attach to growth, time, people, dollars, units, sizes, and accounts.
Keep your measurements concrete and interesting
As you attach numbers to your claims, keep your larger goal in mind—creating a clear and memorable case for yourself. Exercise some caution; adding too many numbers, or figures that are impossible to visualize, will hurt rather than help you. For example, if you attach a percentage increase to a metric your employers won't recognize or understand, your number may simply distract your reader. The same applies to an increase or decrease with no discernable starting point. As always, review your claims from your reader's perspective to ensure they make sense.
This Pi day, think in terms of pie charts—or bar graphs, or time lines, or scatter plots. Help your readers visualize your claims and you'll be more likely to grab the kind of lasting attention that can land you a job. For more guidance and information, check out the tools on MyPerfectResume.