At one of my previous jobs, my department experienced air conditioning issues every summer for years. The AC units were antiquated and their intermittent sputtering of lukewarm “cold air” was less than impressive.
In the heat of summer, the AC just couldn’t keep up and the office temperature would rise to unbearable levels. The staff would periodically petition upper management to do something about the temperature situation, and there were many minor adjustments made to Band-Aid the problem (leave computers and lights off at night, have maintenance adjust the AC, etc.).
All to no avail. The temporary fixes would help – temporarily – and then we were back where we started. Year after year. Some people tend to complain about everything (too hot, too cold, too few breaks, too many breaks), so the challenge for management was recognizing which issues were critical and which weren’t.
One morning, I arrived at my office and noticed steam on my office door window. As I opened the door, I was hit with a blast of hot air. This wasn’t just a “hot” office, it was a sauna in disguise.
All of a sudden, I flashed back to a conversation I’d had years ago with a coworker who is a global hiring director at a large engineering company. I’d asked her what expert advice she would give on writing a resume. Her reply was simple: “metrics”.
Everyone claims to be “detail-oriented”; everyone is a “team player”; everyone is “driven”. How can you prove that you are?
Back at the office, I realized quickly a little metrics were in order. Another email talking about the office being hot was just not going to cut it. I rushed outside, breathed deeply of the cool summer air (it was definitely cooler outside), and drove to the nearest hardware store to buy a thermometer.
Setting it on my desk, I waited at a safe distance while it slowly climbed to its soaring altitude of 103°F. As I took a picture of the thermometer with my phone, I knew that the next email I sent would carry a lot more weight. Within weeks, every single office in our department had brand new air conditioners installed. Who can argue with a number?
Metrics are important for your resume, for your business proposal, and for backing up claims that your office temperature is truly unbearable.
Over the years, I’ve reviewed hundreds and hundreds of resumes. Almost every single candidate was “detail-oriented”, including the ones that had numerous typos on their resume. So what makes you stand out? How do you prove your claims?
Instead of simply listing your qualifications, experience and character attributes, provide a metric with each one:
- You aren’t just “detail-oriented” — you found over 200 bugs in the software you were testing.
- You aren’t just a “highly experienced senior programmer” — you led the development of three major web applications and personally wrote 30,000 lines of code while guiding the efforts of four junior programmers.
- You aren’t just a “driven sales executive” — you increased your company’s annual revenue by $500,000 and brought in 43 new clients.
As employers scan your resume, or potential clients scan your business proposal, you will find that having solid metrics with your statements will make your message that much stronger.