I’ve read hundreds of articles on job searching… possibly even a thousand. By far, the one topic talked about most in these articles: resumes. And many of these articles recommend the use of action verbs, quantification and the direct impact of your contributions.
The goal: to show that you contributed directly to the bottom line of your previous employer. How much money (or time) did you save? How much did you increase sales? How did your team contribute to revenue or accomplishing the goals of the organization?
But from these articles, I could never quite figure out how to combine action verbs with quantified statements and non-boastful action by me to generate impactful bullet points. Maybe you’ve had the same problem?
The Formula for Resume Success
Ultimately, I came up with what I consider to be the formula for success in all things resume bullet points:
AVe + NRe + TYA = Success
Let’s break it down:
- AVe – Action Verb. To catch the readers attention, use action verbs such as applied, executed and identified (there are a gazillion links here to find them0
- NRe – Numerical Result. What did you save? Increase? Decrease? Improve? Include a number, even if it’s an estimate (you won’t be asked to justify the number – but you must be able to justify it)
- TYA – Through Your Action. What did you do, exactly, that created this result?
Examples of “AVe + NRe + TYA = Success”
To test this theory, I shamelessly used existing lines from the most recent version of my resume (I am looking for a job, after all!). And in the process, I noticed that in order to show maximum impact, I need to do some editing (shame on me!) on a couple lines, one of which we’ll get to in just a minute. But first, two examples where I already followed the AVe + NRe + TYA formula:
“Saved over $250K annually by replacing molded virgin rubber with superior material based on recycled tires.”
Let’s break it down:
- AVe – Action Verb: “Saved” is strong action verb that catches attention.
- NRe – Numerical Result: “over $250K annually”. Money talks, and a quarter of a million dollars talks loudly.
- TYA – Through Your Action: “replacing molded virgin rubber with superior material…” states exactly, and without fluffy adjectives, what I did to achieve this result.
Here’s another one:
“Eliminated product’s 50% rework rate in brazing operation by redimensioning joint for proper process window.“
Again, the breakdown:
- AVe – Action Verb: “Eliminated”. Not reduced, eliminated; a very strong action verb.
- NRe – Numerical Result: “50% rework rate.” First-time-through (without rework) is a key metric in production – having to rework/repair items in a manufacturing environment is a bad thing. Going from a 50% rework to zero… is huge.
- TYA – Through Your Action: “by redimensioning joint for proper process window.”
And finally, one of the lines from my resume requiring a rewrite:
“Redesigned rotationally-molded coolant tank; reduced cost by 15% and eliminated four separate pieces.”
Not bad, but in looking at this I can do better. “Redesigned” is not a bad verb. But it describes what I did, not what the result was. Try this rewrite breakdown on for size:
- AVe – “Reduced”. “Decreased” would also work.
- NRe – “plastic tank cost by 15% and eliminated four costly components”. There are two solid results here. And if you are a plastics person trying to catch the attention of people who want your expertise using the specific word “plastic” can catch attention, too.
- TYA – “by redesigning with rotational-molding DFMA recommendations.” Again, what I did. Bonus: this phrasing gives me a chance to throw in two keywords (rotational-molding and DFMA) critical to my industry.
Putting them together:
“Reduced plastic tank cost by 15% and eliminated four costly components by redesigning with rotational-molding DFMA recommendations.”
Yes, better. Much better!
By ensuring each of your resume’s bullet points make an impact, and by presenting numerical results in an easy-to-digest format, your resume may well find itself not skimmed but read as people say “Whoa, wait… wow!”
And when that happens – and they start seeing what you can do for them – you get interviewed! Get to work… and good luck!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at David Hunt, PE!
About the Author: David Hunt, PE is a Mechanical Engineer with a background in multiple industries, but predominantly in plastics. Currently “in transition,” he blogs at davidhuntpe.wordpress.com to draw attention to his knowledge, accomplishments, humor, and intellectual curiosity. He seeks a job in Design, NPI, or Sustaining Engineering in or commutable from southern NH; he just started a Graduate Certificate in Six Sigma to complement his two Masters degrees. Reach David via email or Twitter.