Which would sound more impressive to you if you were reading a colleague's resume? "Managed a sales team to grow company revenue" or "Managed a team of 17 salespeople to grow company revenue 74% in less than 6 months?"
While the first version is positive, it pales in comparison to the second one, which should absolutely excite any recruiter looking for a sales manager.
By including your own measurable accomplishments examples when you build a resume, you are increasing the probability that a recruiter will want to interview you. Here's how to do it:
Why Add Measurable Accomplishments?
1) Numbers build credibility
Having real numbers to share about your achievements shows that you either tracked your work or were prescient enough to get that information from your employer or both, making you look more professional.
2) Numbers stand out to recruiters
"When it comes to accomplishments, numbers talk," asserts Sharon Graham of Graham Management Group, a Canadian firm specializing in career transition strategy for six-figure professionals. "Recruiters who are scanning resumes typically notice and hone in on digits."
Graham cites the "elimination factors" that provoke employers into rejecting candidates. One such factor is lack of measurable accomplishments, as she affirmed when she conducted a research study to evaluate 1,000 randomly selected resumes. "There is much literature available to jobseekers," Graham says, "explaining how to quantify their accomplishments, yet most are still missing this point. In our sample, almost none of the resumes included adequate measurable achievements reflective of a six-figure professional."
3) Numbers have a high impact
"Metrics is the language of business," says Executive Branding Expert David Topus in "Making Your Resume Recruiter Ready," an ExecuNet publication. "Anything that's measurable and has metrics associated with it is high impact."
4) Dollar signs stand out
"If you're able to attach percentages or dollar signs, people will pay even more attention," says Right Resumes' Jane Heifetz.
In other words, show them the money. You clearly need to have measurable accomplishments on your resume, but where to begin?
More Measurable Accomplishments to Add
This list of metrics is not exhaustive but will give you a good idea of the kinds of numbers hiring decision makers look for:
- dollars and percentages tied to other types of revenue generation
- how many contracts or bids you've won
- increase in market share
- number of customers served
- numbers or percentages of internal performance benchmarks achieved
- amount of money you've saved
- monetary budgets you've managed
- percentages by which you've improved efficiency
- numbers of anything you've done in great quantity, such as repairing many pieces of equipment
- number of times selected as team or project lead
- timeframes of accomplishments, especially when you exceed deadlines or expectations
- awards you've won
- publications that have featured your work
Find more suggestions and ideas on how to phrase achievements in your resume here.
"There is much literature available to jobseekers explaining how to quantify their accomplishments, yet most are still missing this point. In our sample, almost none of the resumes included adequate measurable achievements reflective of a six-figure professional," Graham says.
How to Add Measurable Accomplishments to Your Resume
As many achievements as possible should be quantifiable on resumes, yet many people don't quantify any. Some jobseekers don't know they should follow this best practice, or they simply don't have access to the numbers they need. Don't despair, however, if you can't quantify as many accomplishments as you'd like.
"Subjective results are well accepted, too," Allan Hay writes in his book Memory Mining, "Employers simply want to know if you are someone who will contribute to their organizational goals and objectives."
1. Provide context for measurable accomplishments
Some numbers have little meaning unless they are compared with other numbers. Take this resume bullet point from a vice president of sales, for example:
"Directed 12-person sales force to $15 million in sales while simultaneously bolstering sales in own territory from zero to $2.5 million."
The second half of it is excellent because it compares the initial zero sales to $2.5 million. To make this even more impactful, the resume writer could have included the length of time it took to achieve that result. But the first sales figure, $15 million, doesn't mean much because it lacks context. Is $15 million good? Compared to what? The jobseeker should have provided, for example, the sales figures from before he was VP of sales.
2. Put your most impressive measurable accomplishments out front
Another pro tip: some accomplishments involve a range of numbers.
Let's say over the time you worked in a given company, you managed between 15 and 75 employees. Or you managed budgets ranging from $750,000 to $5.2 million. Instead of giving the range, focus solely on the more impressive, higher number:
- "Supervised up to 75 employees"
- "Managed budgets of up to $5.2 million"
3. Frame measurable accomplishments that are hard to quantify
What if you think you have no quantifiable work accomplishments? Author and career-coach educator Susan Whitcomb points out that most people's work has an impact on the bottom line.
"Figure out a way to tie it to that," Whitcomb advises. ResumeEdge's Darlene Zambruski asks clients: "If you were to quit today, how many staff would your company need to replace you?"
Zambruski reports that people often answer "two." Zambruski's response: "Let's say you're paid $60,000 annually. If you're doing the work of two people, each paid $60,000, you're saving your company $60,000 annually. That's an accomplishment."
4. If necessary, be less specific
Here is a hack for adding measurable accomplishments examples, even if you absolutely can't come up with numbers: Consider using less-specific superlatives such as "first," "only," "best," "most," "top," and "highest" to describe your accomplishments.