accomplishments for resume

Bad Resume Math Loses Jobs

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 to get ideas about how to quantify accomplishments for your resume:

Example 1

“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:

“Managed 2018 operating expenses to 90% obudget, which resulted in $15 million of savings.” 

(BTW, see more here on how to write “million” on your resume.)

Example 2

“…Resulted in six consecutive years of revenue growth of 83%.”

In looking at the rest of this resume, I could see that Year Six revenue was 83% higher than Year One revenue.

So I did the math and found out that this equated to 10% average annual revenue growth.

Thus, the accomplishment statement would be stronger if phrased like this:

“Delivered 10% average annual revenue growth from 2010 through 2016.”

Or like this:

“…Achieved double-digit revenue growth six years running.”

Example 3

“Introduced analytics that increased comp store sales 15%.

That’s nice, but in checking the company’s financial statements, I learned that revenue had dropped for five consecutive years.

Moral of the story? Check to be sure that your claims are consistent with your company’s actual performance.

Resume Quantification Action Items


  1. You’re hiring a resume writer, check their sample resumes for mathematical credibility and accuracy.
  2. You think you’re happy with your resume, open it up and ask yourself, “Is all my math accurate?”
  3. You’re not sure about the mathematical accuracy of your resume accomplishment, have a financial expert review your resume.

Why Your Resume’s Mathematical Accuracy Matters

Savvy recruiters and hiring managers will dump your executive resume faster for a math error than they will for a spelling mistake.


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 type job descriptions.

However, bad math on your resume draws 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 to make decisions and who is likely to make unverifiable claims in front of customers, C-level executives, and the Board.

No one wants to clean up after those problems.

Image: Fotolia/staraldo
Updated February 2019

© 2014 – 2019, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.

Comments 2

  1. 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.

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