The Importance of Metrics
It is an immutable law in business that words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises-but only performance is reality.
- Harold S. Geneen
When I was 16, I was hired for a job to work a checkout counter, wear a bright blue polo, and help customers in their movie rental habits. A few friends from school had the same job, so I thought it would be fun. And it was fun, for a time. Eventually reality set in, and I quickly learned how the shift schedule worked — my friends and I almost never overlapped. On the off chance we were working together, we weren’t there to have fun, we were working.
Day in and day out I clocked in and clocked out. There were contests to reward anyone who could sell the most snacks and each month was themed. These attempts at creating a fun company culture fell deaf on my teenage ears. It didn’t take long for me to realize it was more fun being in high school than earning gasoline money, and so I decided to put in my notice. Shortly after, I heard about the subscription movie rental company that had just gone public and would put my former store (and many others) out of business. No, this isn’t a post about the perils of not sensing major industry change, rather it’s about the ability to identify and quantify your experience, regardless of your role.
At the time, I didn’t grasp that the work I performed could be quantified, even the most seemingly mundane task. Numbers don’t just matter to business. They matter to how you market yourself to businesses. Think metrics. When you craft a resume or speak to your skills during an interview, you have the opportunity to explain your tasks and responsibilities as well as the impact your success had on the business. Your past success is the best indication of your future success with a potential employer — how you connect the two matters greatly.
We’ve all heard it before: you only have a few moments to catch the attention of someone who is reading your resume. Don’t waste precious real estate reciting a laundry list of pseudo-accomplishments. Back up your findings with numbers.
Which point below is more appealing as a potential hiring manager?
- Participated in monthly sales challenges to sell add-on candy packages to movie rental customers
- Increased store sales of add-on candy packages 10% by up-selling monthly specials to movie rental customers
The first example tells a simple, straight-forward story about my role. Whereas the second example quantifies my results. Sure, a 10% increase in sales might not seem like much to some, but this approach shows that I can communicate my labor in terms that are understood across industries.
There is another benefit to including metrics with your bullet points: it forces out the fluff. Always be honest with yourself. The movie rental chain that so dominated Friday and Saturday evenings is long gone, but quantifying work experience you put on your resume in a way that shows ROI will be important as long as resumes are being written. If you are having a difficult time defending the social media marketing you performed at your last job because it didn’t lead to quantifiable conversions, page views, or sales, then it might be better to leave that bullet point off your resume. On the flip side, if your social media prowess increased page views by 25,000/month and web sales by 25% over the same period then you should absolutely shout it from the rooftop!
The difference between a resume with crafted metrics vs. qualitative experiences could mean the difference between who gets the job and who doesn’t.
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