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November 29, 2006


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Good timing on this post. I was looking for some resume writing advice....thanks.

What I always wonder about the "quantifiable achievements" resume strategy is: what about those of us who work in unquantified fields? I can legitimately say that I work hard and do my job well, but there simply aren't figures to back it up. Besides, I think even if I presented figures, the companies I'd be interviewing with wouldn't know what to do with them. "What do you mean, 'cut production delays by 31%'?"

What sort of field doesn't have at least something that can be quantified?

That is the weakness of this. It is usually not that results are not quantifiable but that the employee has no access to the results, and all too frequently neither does anyone else since no one thought to measure it. The other weakness is that the numbers are largely irrelevant, being cast in the form to produce the largest, smallest, or otherwise most notable number. So that $475,000 amounted to 0.01% of sales seasonally unadjusted? Hopefully reviewers have since grown past being awed by such fictions.

Great advice, but I'd warn resumer writers be careful in their quest for "proactive" language", which is easy to overdo and leave the resume sounding overblown and jargonistic, and draw more attention to your communication skills (or lack of) than your achievements.

In your examples, I would suggest "spearheaded" is overblown, and would prefer to read "led" in its place. And "initiative" is not a synonym for "programme": to many, such as myself it is an example of shallow business-speak.

Of course some recruiters will be users of such language, but many companies and federal agencies are actively implementing "plain English" policies.

A couple comments:

1. I'm in business, so maybe these suggestions are more applicable to business people than others.

2. I have used these techniques throughout my career and seen almost a 10% average annual increase in my salary since 1988. Something's working. ;-)

this is excellent advice

I have found attempting to step inside the employer's head is the most effective tactic

as long as you're not a total schlub it's really not what you say it's how you say it

These are great tips. I help my friends with their resumes quite often and do the things you mentioned out of habit so I'm glad to know that I was on track. Your resume is all they have to get to know you. It's your insurance for making the right impression. You have control of that. If you stick with the facts but presented in a way that shows results it will lead people to view you as someone who can achieve his/her objectives.

Another candidate here who would find it hard to attach numbers to accomplishments. I edited books for major publishers, but have no access to their sales data.

Kris --

How about something like:

"Delivered 10% more manuscripts in 30% less time and with 5% fewer errors that the average editor."

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