Testimonials: The Resume Writing Hack that Wins Job Interviews!

testimonialsHave you noticed how often you see testimonials used in advertisements?

You rarely find a website that doesn’t include rave reviews from clients. And we’ve all seen those toothpaste ads that claim “4 out of 5 dentists recommend…”

Marketers do this because they know how effective testimonials are. After all, if they tell you how great their product or service is, you might ignore them (of course they would say their product is great!) The real proof comes from what other people say.

Testimonials on your resume do the same for you!

If you add positive quotes about your work to your resume, you show recruiters that someone else thinks highly of you. Testimonials also convey your personality and work ethic in a compelling and convincing way.

Think about it: if you describe yourself as “a hardworking professional with an in-depth understanding of internet marketing,” your resume will sound like lots of others. Plus the recruiter has no way of figuring out how truthful you’re being.

But look at the difference if you include this quote from your manager:

“Brian is always the first in the office and the last to leave. And what he doesn’t know about Internet marketing isn’t worth knowing. I have no idea how he keeps on top of so many new trends – I’m just glad that he does.”

All of a sudden, your work ethic and knowledge are brought to life. The reader can actually imagine you at work when she reads this quote.

And that’s the power of adding testimonials to your resume.

There Are Several Ways to Gather Testimonials

LinkedIn is my very favorite source because recruiters know they can trust LinkedIn testimonials. That’s because they can’t be faked and you can’t edit them yourself. If you use a quote from LinkedIn, include a link to your profile so that recruiters can check (and also hopefully see other great endorsements while they are there).

You can also look for quotes on your old performance reviews. While these are not checkable, you can improve the sense of authenticity by including the name of the person who wrote the comment.

I also like to look at thank you letters – either from co-workers or from clients. Again, stating who wrote the comment will strengthen the impact of these quotes. And finally, of course, reference letters often provide good fodder.

Choosing the Right Testimonials for Your Resume

Look for testimonials that have some personality or tell a story. They should sound like they were written by a real person. And keep them brief (3 sentences at most).

One of my favorites was one a client provided to me; a quote from a reference letter and it simply said:

“If Sharlene Jones walks into your office looking for a job, hire her immediately. You will never regret it.”

How powerful is that?!

Other good quotes are ones that speak directly to a specific skill or character trait that is important in your target roles.

And finally, a testimonial from a well-known or influential person is always worth including as that person’s name will carry a weight all of its own. (One client of mine had worked as an intern for Tom Brokaw and had a reference letter from the man himself. Needless to say, we used a quote from that letter!)

Where to Place the Testimonial?

This is really dependent on the resume design you choose, but ideally testimonials will be formatted slightly differently from the body text of the resume, so that they stand out and are noticeable.

Here’s one example, where the testimonial is used in the header. Here’s another where testimonials are set apart in a separate section.

Testimonials On a Resume Really Do Pay Off

It’s important to note that not everyone will love testimonials on your resume. Some recruiters are traditionalists… and this kind of stuff doesn’t go over well with them.

Don’t let their critiques bother you. Your resume will never please all of the people all of the time. Your goal is to attract the attention of some of them – and win the interview. In my experience, well-chosen testimonials are one of the very best ways to do this!





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Blue Sky Resumes!



Louise-FletcherAbout the Author: Louise Fletcher is President and Co-Founder of Blue Sky Resumes and Managing Editor of Career Hub blog. Prior to starting her resume writing business, she worked as an HR executive in a number of different industries including music, video games, fashion and advertising. Louise has written three books about looking for work, and has been a featured expert for Oprah Winfrey Magazine, The Washington Post and The Ladders among many others. In her spare time she paints, cooks, and drools over Mac products. Follow Louise on Twitter!



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  • http://www.bklynresumestudio.com/ Dana Leavy-Detrick

    Particularly with LinkedIn, a good rule of thumb is to mix up your testimonials to show different levels of relationships – clients, colleagues, supervisors, even people you manage directly. It shows a bigger range of your capabilities and how you work with people in different capacities.

  • Pamela Paterson

    I am also a fan of testimonials, or excerpts of testimonials, on resumes. If somebody is willing to stand up and attach their name to you, it means something. When you visit somebody’s public Linkedin profile, and see that they have, for example, “30 recommendations”, it has an impact compared to the person who has 3 recommendations for his or her entire career.

    Pamela Paterson
    Author, Get the Job: Optimize Your Resume for the Online Job Search

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