How to Quantify Your Resume Bullets (When You Don't Work With Numbers)
You’ve likely heard the advice to add numbers to your resume bullets. It helps recruiters really picture the impact you’ve made in your position, and it frankly just sounds more impressive.
See for yourself. Which person would you hire?
Person 1: Duties included taking field measurements and maintaining records, setting up and tracking project using Microsoft Project, and developing computerized material take off sheets.
Person 2: Initiated and managed tracking systems used for the Green District water decontamination project, saving $125,000 on the overall project through a 30% decrease of staff allocation time.
Of course, I know what you might be thinking: Sounds great, but what if I just don’t really work with hard numbers? Maybe you’re in a role that requires softer skills, or maybe you don’t have hard data or sales reports to pull from.
That’s OK! Truthfully, no matter what you do, you can add some numbers and data to your resume to give it that extra touch. Here are three ways to quantify your experience without being in an inherently quant-y field.
Not knowing the exact figure for things is often a big deterrent for using numbers in resumes. But one way to overcome this is to use a range. It’s perfectly fine to not know exactly how many clients you see a month or how many calls you take a week, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still quantify it.
Give it your best estimate, and the range will show that there is a bit of leeway. And, of course, focus on your impact.
Before: Responsible for supervising undergraduate researchers.
After: Supervised 7-12 undergraduate research students each year who have all since gone on to graduate school in astrophysics, physics, or mathematics.
Now that you know it’s fine to use a range, one of the easiest ways to add some numbers into your resume is to include how frequently you do a particular task (after all, that’s a number that applies to pretty much everyone). This is particularly helpful in illustrating your work in high-volume situations—a hiring manager will be able to see just how much you can handle.
Before: Completed first editing pass on articles.
After: Reviewed and evaluated 40-50 topical articles per week and made the decision to either pass articles to the editorial team or send articles back to authors for further revisions.
You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: Employers across the board care about money—and saving it. Including the frequency of your actions give a great sense of scale, but an even more eye-catching way to do is to talk about the bottom line.
Think about all the things you do that ultimately save your company money, whether it’s streamlining a procedure, saving time, or negotiating discounts with vendors. Multiply those actions by how frequently you do them, and pop them into your resume bullets (remembering, again, that rough numbers are OK).
Before: Streamlined inspection process by upgrading sensing and marking devices.
After: Managed project to upgrade defect sensing and marking devices, resulting in the elimination of human inspection on line, saving $200,000 to $350,000 per year.
Or, if you’re more of a people-person and less of a figures-person, consider adding how many people you interact with or serve. Even soft skills come to life with a few numbers thrown in.
Before: Responsible for chairing the Student Event Promotional Committee.
After: Chaired promotional committee of 12 and presented marketing plans to an audience of 40 to 60 students at weekly university senate meetings open to all 2,000 community members.
Numbers make such a huge difference in resumes—no matter what your work involves. So, the next time you’re polishing your resume, try adding a few numbers to quantify your work and see how they really drive home the impact you’re capable of making.
Photo of numbers courtesy of Shutterstock.
About The Author
Lily Zhang serves as a Career Development Specialist at MIT where she works with a range of students from undergraduates to PhDs on how to reach their career aspirations. When she's not indulging in a new book or video game, she's thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.