A data driven resume to nail that next role
The current project is coming to an end, and with it your contract, or possibly it’s time for another challenge elsewhere. Regardless of the reason it’s time to refine the resume to nail that next role. So what is required to standout from all those competitors, it is hard to come by important decisions that are made in the absence of data to support them. Managers are, understandably, loath to not have evidence stacked up to support a claim or decision that exposes their organization to opportunity, but also risk.
This same perspective can be applied to hiring decisions as well. Are not employees a huge opportunity, albeit potential risk, for any business? A star employee can transform an organization for the better, resulting in a strong bottom line and happier customers. In a competitive job market, candidates need to sell their attributes and accomplishments to hiring managers, who increasingly need to base their hiring decisions on strong evidence, not unlike other operational or project decisions.
The resume needs to be quantitative, most resumes list work experience and education in a neat table, sorted by date and organization. This is a good start. However, when drilled down into the details underlying each previous job, the descriptions often leave something to be desired. For example;
- “Compiled project analysis for company executives”
- “Managed an organization-wide ERP solution implementation”
- “Trained support teams on use of new software tool”
What these examples demonstrate is a lack of volume, scale, or size. How is a hiring manager to know if you managed the roll out of an ERP system for a staff of 10, or 2000? What does improved service delivery really mean? That each agent more consistently said thank you at the end of each call? Or were turnaround times reduced by 30%? Look for the ‘wins’ and highlight them with data.
Which can look like;
- “Comprehensively analyzed and compiled dozens of address, routing, and fuel data points on a weekly cadence, to draft executive reports that could be quickly understood and acted upon”
- “Managed a 1 year ERP implementation affecting 900 staff, resulting in time savings of 5 FTEs”
- “Facilitated dozens of training sessions of 5‐25 participants each, achieving an average instructor rating of 4.5/5 from feedback forms”
The descriptions above provide a potential employer with the following takeaway.
- $’s spent, saved or earned
- Time taken or time saved
- Cadence or turnaround time of process or task
- # of people impacted, trained or involved
- # of computers/machines updated or provisioned
- Volume or quantity of materials
What if the numbers aren’t impressive, when providing feedback on resumes, mentees often state they don’t think their accomplishments sound big or important enough if too much detail is given, as if keeping it vague somehow augments their work. If you don’t think an accomplishment is worth quantifying, remember that hiring managers can also revert to the lowest common denominator, if quantities aren’t provided. You may have concurrently managed 10 accounts worth an average of $10,000. In the absence of concrete numbers, a hiring manager may theoretically guess that maybe it was 4 accounts worth $5000 each.
Sometimes, exploring different ways of telling your data story can make your work history sound more effective too. Maybe you successfully negotiated a $100 savings on a monthly vendor contract. That’s great, but maybe you can re-word it as, “Negotiated a 10% savings on a recurring monthly expense, saving $1000s per year”. Explore absolute versus percent versus ratio metrics for each claim, as sometimes one will sound better than the other.
You may notice 2 distinct metrics types, often, when we are stuck in the weeds of our projects, we only think of our internal metrics. These could include things like # of stakeholders managed, dollars spent, or groups involved. What are often more impactful, in terms of convincing employers of the significance of your work, are metrics that speak to what your project ultimately accomplished; the downstream outcomes. Sometimes, these data points may not be known for months or years. These could include things like # of new clients, # of people trained, or incremental dollars earned or saved, directly due to actions you took while deep in the weeds of your project. Have a think about your last few projects. What were their downstream outcomes?
People differ on the utility of a personal interests or extracurricular section of your resume. Hiring managers, like all humans, are subject to nervousness around meeting new people in a formal interview setting. The personal interests section provide great small chat talking points to fill otherwise awkward pauses that can occur before and after the formal questioning part of an interview.
Just like with the other sections of your resume, be specific, and quantified, with your personal life! Instead of;
- “Organizer of musical festivals”, or
- “Love traveling and photography”
May look something like;
- “Have organized 3 musical festivals with 1000s of participants each”, or
- “Have traveled in 23 countries, and photographed the Taj Mahal to the fish & corals of the Great Barrier Reef”
Lastly, quantifying your resume is an exercise to perform not only once you are looking for your next contract or job, but on an ongoing basis, so that you can leverage the metrics you have formulated for yourself in conversations and informal networking chats.
Good luck on your next application!