The One Thing That Takes Resumes from Good to Great

good2greatIn a job market where every word on your resume counts, we are prone to generalizations:

  • “Dynamic leader”
  • “Passionate ambassador”
  • “Excellent communication skills”

Unfortunately, these generalizations – no matter how professional or smooth they sound – don’t really say… anything.

The point of your resume, of course, is to concisely convey relevant information about your work history and potential. To do this, you need to use real examples of achievement.

You need to quantify… everything.

Quantification is the one thing that can take your resume from poor to good, or from good to great. It is the one thing all recruiters want to see. It is the one thing… that will separate you from every other candidate.

Quantification is the simple act of putting numbers to everything. This is an important resume tip for three reasons:

  • Unless you quantify, hiring managers don’t know if you did that thing once (and are using it to kick your resume up a notch) of if you did it as a regular part of your job. If you don’t distinguish between the two, those hiring managers are going to assume that the former is more likely… and that your resume is mostly fluff.
  • You want to look like the type of person who has numbers for everything they’ve done. This shows attention to detail, organizational skills, and the ability to communicate – the three things that everyone puts on their resume but nobody actually demonstrates.
  • Lastly, quantification shows you are focused on results – not just activity. You clearly understand the “why” of what you did, and the impact your work had on the organization, customers, product, etc. Numbers, simply put, demonstrate you are accountable for the bottom line.

With all this in mind, here are my five tips for quaitifying you resume:

1. Give Everything a Number

If you don’t have a number for a task, say how often you did something. Was it a daily task?  A weekly task? A monthly task?

2. Make it a Goal: No Exceptions!

Even if it seems ridiculous as you write your resume, quantify every bullet. You can get rid of numbers that are obvious or unimpressive at the end. Say how long the reports were. Say how many people you managed. Quantify everything.

3. Don’t Know the Number? Provide a Range

It’s better to give a range than to not use a number at all. “Resolved between twenty and forty daily help desk tickets” is much better than “Resolved help desk tickets.”

4. Don’t Ever Say “Approximately”

Feel free to estimate, but don’t use “approximately,” “around,” or “more than.” That’s hedging. Saying an exact number demonstrates confidence. The number doesn’t have to be perfect… it just has to be an accurate representation of you work.

5. “Improved…” Must Be “Improved by…”

If you say you improved something, you need to say by how much. “Streamlined workflow processes and reduced request processing time” sounds like fluff. “Streamlined workflow processes and reduced request processing time by 20%” sounds like an accomplishment.

Finding ways to quantify can be tough. You may have to call an old manager, colleague, mentor, or that person on your list of references. The work, however, is worth the effort… because nothing takes your resume from good to great, like quantification!


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Resume to Interviews!


Resumes to Interviews


jason bAbout the Author: Jason B. has written, edited, and proofread thousands of resumes, cover letters, academic CVs, LinkedIn profiles, and personal statements for clients with work histories dating back over thirty years. You can find him on Google+: Jason B., Facebook, and Twitter.



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