Ladders 2020 Resume Guide: Why your resume should be full of numbers


Hi Readers,

The 2020 update for my best-selling Ladders Resume Guide is now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions.  I’ve included a brief excerpt below.

This updated version is designed to make your resume writing go smoothly.  In about 90 minutes, I provide the basics on how to create a professional two-page resume, share templates to help you do so quickly, and provide specific step-by-step advice on writing bullet points and a professional summary that will make you stand out.

Ladders Resume Guide is based on the millions of $100K+ to $500K professionals we’ve helped over the past 17 years, and the success of their millions of applications with our employers. I provide you with the tools, tactics, and tricks you need to transform your past experience into an effective resume.  I review the right format for structuring your past jobs into a job history, and tackle the best wording and phrases for your past achievements.

Here’s that excerpt I promised you…

Quantities are more persuasive

Because we’ve never seen a resume with too many numbers, ideally, you’ll take the advice to have a number in every single bullet point.  Being specific helps your persuasive case by enumerating your success at every step along the path.

“But,” you might say, “I brought amazing non-quantified value to the organization!  I introduced Agile Development, led a huge bond offering, brought innovative logistics strategies to bear, or reorganized our selling methodology.”

Yes.  I agree those are impressive and important achievements.

But they are only impressive and important to the extent they are quantifiable.  New methodologies, exhibiting leadership, or bringing innovation to a company are interesting to your bosses’ bosses only to the extent they improve, quantifiably, the outcome of the company – more users, more revenue, faster turnaround, higher client satisfaction, fewer costs, greater profitability.

Your bosses are judged, ultimately, on the quantities they produce.  The better you align yourself, and show that you are able to contribute to their achieving those goals, the more likely they are to see you as a solution to their problems today.

In addition, the harder it is for you to think of a way to quantify your results, the more impact actually doing so will have.  If you’re in a role that you’re finding difficult to express quantifiably, isn’t every other candidate also having trouble doing the same?

And if they’re all having the same problem, how much more would someone who did quantify their results stand out?

A compliance professional in the finance industry – someone whose job is to keep his finance colleagues out of legal and regulatory trouble – asked me about this a year ago.  “Compliance”, as it is actually practiced, is not an overtly numerical field. Internal reporting in compliance departments doesn’t support a quantified approach. Management and reward structures don’t either.  And the finance professionals upon whom compliance is being practiced don’t communicate with their compliance colleagues in a quantifiable way except to grouse “well, there’s another deal you lost me!”

So while acknowledging that compliance is not a field in which quantifiable results play a large part, my query back to him was “well, how much more would you stand out with your resume, and in interviews, if you did show the finance professionals in the business that you cared about numbers?  They talk about their own performance in terms of numbers all the time, don’t they?  And don’t they sometimes express frustration when colleagues don’t understand how strongly numbers drive their own professional experience?  If your resume indicated ‘supported a growing team of 327 finance professionals in closing 714 opportunities, while preventing 24 non-compliant deals, in 2019, and assisted in generating a 24% increase over the prior year, to $565 mm in revenue’, how much more would you stand out among all the applicants? And how strongly might the finance professionals advocate for your hire?”

Over the years, I’ve had professionals from a wide variety of fields adamantly tell me their role could not possibly be numerically described: talent bookers for conferences (really? Signed 12% more talent for the year, generating 15% increase in attendance at our shows and a 0.1 point improvement in our NPS score), managers of grounds crews (really? Reduced budget 3% while maintaining high standards at 37 amusement parks while limiting the increase in complaints to under 1% for the year), auditors (really? Reduced rework on audit by 5% in second year through better planning and asset allocation while increasing fees generated by 12% by bringing 2 additional outside divisions into the audit) and so on and so on.  

There is no field of professional endeavor that is not quantifiable.

And that’s because, at its core, business itself is quantified.  Business professionals get paid in a quantified number of dollars, by a company with quantified revenue, expenses and profitability, with a quantified number of customers, vendors, and partners who either increase or decrease their interaction with the company in the course of 12 months, at a level of satisfaction that is either higher or lower.

Every role in every field is quantifiable because every topic in every area of every aspect of business is quantifiable.  And the more effectively you convey that in your resume, the more persuasively you’ll demonstrate that you’ve earned the right to the interview.

I have never seen a resume with too many numbers.  If yours is the first, tweet me @cenedella. (Nobody’s tweeted me in three years, yet.)

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