Do you know that the most powerful way to write accomplishments for your resume is to quantify them?
But what if numbers aren’t your strong suit?
Then look at the following before and after examples from real resumes.
“Exceeded 2018 operating expense plan by 10% resulting in $15 million savings.”
When I saw “exceeded,” I thought, “Hmm, they went over plan? Why is he calling that an accomplishment?”
Then I read on and realized that expenses had come in under plan. That would have been easier to understand with phrasing like this:
“Controlled 2018 operating expenses to 90% of budget, which resulted in $15 million of savings.”
(BTW, see more here on how to write “million” on your resume.)
“…Resulted in 6 consecutive years of revenue growth of 83%.”
Looking at the rest of that resume, I could see that Year 6 revenue was 83% higher than Year 1 revenue.
So I did the math and found that equated to a 10% compound annual growth rate.
Thus, the accomplishment statement would be accurate if phrased like this:
“Delivered 10% compound annual revenue growth rate from 2010 through 2016.”
Or like this:
“…Achieved double-digit revenue growth 6 years running.”
“Introduced analytics that increased comp store sales 15%.“
That’s nice, but analytics don’t increase revenue.
A more accurate statement would be:
“Developed analytics and insights that played key role in 15% YOY comp store sales growth.“
Why Your Resume’s Accuracy Matters
Savvy decision-makers dump resumes faster for math errors than for spelling mistakes.
Because as your career progresses, you can hire people to pay attention to details for you. That’s why you see “attention to detail” required in so many early career job descriptions.
However, lousy math and overstated claims draw your ability to reason into question. And that is table stakes for most executive jobs.
When you present numbers improperly, you look like someone who can’t use evidence well. That creates concerns about you making unverifiable claims. And that makes you a potential loose cannon in front of customers, C-level executives, and the Board.
No one wants to clean up after those problems, so your resume goes to the “no” pile.
Updated April 2022
© 2014 – 2022, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.
Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, authors all of AvidCareerist’s posts.
She is a Fast Company Contributor and has written for and been quoted by 100+ business and general media outlets, including Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, CNBC, the New York Times, USA Today, Time, US News & World Report, CBS, the BBC, Lifehacker, Social Media Today, IT World, and Business News Daily.
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I can’t stress out enough how important this is.
Achievements presentation is make it or break it for a job search. I just hope this message reaches enough job seekers.
Excellent points, Donna.
Thank you, Vladimir. Donna