Show Me The Numbers: Quantify Your Accomplishments

Did you hide under your desk in math class? Does the very sight of an integer send you into a cold sweat? Judging by the resumes I see every day, you would think that numbers had never come to our humble civilization. When drafting a resume, the one piece of paper that’s going to convince someone to give you a job based on your concrete accomplishments, instead of writing a paragraph of adjectives to try to describe what you did in a way that is convincing, get rid of all that and just—give them a number.

How much did you sell? How many people did you manage? How many pages was that documentation you wrote? How much time did that save the company? A concrete number can’t be misinterpreted, overlooked, or doubted.

I get it—quantifying your achievements is scary. You’re afraid your accomplishments won’t be enough to impress anyone if you don’t fluff it up with vagueness, or you’re afraid of looking petty, or I’ve even heard people say that they’re afraid of coming across as arrogant.

Or, you’re convinced yourself that there’s absolutely no way to put a number on what you do. But, is that really true? If pressed, can you not thing of a single amount, metric or concrete detail that will demonstrate your exact worth to the company? Go through your resume, and if you see these terms, get rid of them.

Quantify Your Accomplishment: More Than, Less Than, Over.

As in, “I sold more than fifty doily dust protectors at this year’s Grandma Summit.”

What you think you’re saying: I’m sure I sold at least fifty, or I know that I sold 54, and 54 sounds dumb.”

What they read: “blah blah sold blah fifty doily dust protectors blah.”

What this tells me: You know that you sold more than fifty, but probably less than sixty, because you would have said so. Then, just say fifty! Even if it’s just your best approximation! I promise you, no one is going to come check. (That’s not to say, dear job hunters, that you should “approximate” fifty up to two hundred.)

Extremely, Highly, Large, Exceptionally

As in, “I prevented an extremely large issue when the highly critical freezers broke down at the mint chocolate chip ice cream factory due to exceptionally fast response time.”

What you think you’re saying: “I did a great job on this project, and I want them to know that, but I’m afraid of bragging/lazy, so lots of positive adjectives are the way to go.”

What they read: “I prevented an …. issue when the …. freezers broke down due to …. response time.”

What this tells me: You are proud of your accomplishment, but you either didn’t take the next step and were too lazy to really describe it or are so afraid of exaggerating that you figure you’re safer sticking to vague but happy sounding adjectives. Guys, quantify your accomplishments.

You prevented a large issue? Great, how much money did you save? You had a fast response time? Cool, how fast? How exactly DID you prevent the chips from hitting the fan, anyway? The thing about adjectives is that your “extremely” means… exactly nothing to someone else. How is the reader supposed to know how good “really good” is? What does that really tell them?

You know what’s better than telling someone, “I’m super duper smart and reliable and you should totally give me a job please believe me”? Try “I have an IQ of 600 and the server that I administer has 99.999% uptime and I brought in $7.5K in business last month through my patented mind control techniques.”

If you just take the time right now to really hash out your contributions and put a number on everything you do, the next number you’ll have to worry about is how to spend all the mad cash you’re making at your sick new job.

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