User’s Question: My question always was this — what do you use if your work is not quantifiable, or, more to the point, if quantification really does not communicate the real value.
Example: how does a technical writer quantify results? You write user documentation for a product. There are metrics somewhere (e.g., better user documentation = fewer tech support calls), but they are not available to the worker because they are aggregated on a huge scale. Assume this tech writer doesn’t manage anyone and doesn’t want to.
Or this, from my own background: I created presentations for inside sales people to present to very limited bases of customers (e.g., the 2 or 3 oil refineries of a certain size in a limited geographical area). Presumably better content leads to better sales, but there is no direct way to measure this.
My Answer: Thanks for writing back! I find that there is almost always quantifiable things to talk about, though sometimes it does require tracking and asking.
For the technical writer example, here are some questions that could help quantify: How long is the user documentation (# of pages, # of links etc)? How long does each piece of documentation take to write? If your company is a startup or on the smaller side, you could also do rough approximations, like figuring out what percentage of the total user documentation you write. And taking it further to say something like “Wrote apx 10% of all documentation for a user base of 10,000.” (Even some aggregate data numbers can help us understand your impact.)
It’s important to try and track your impact at an organization from the day you start, not just when you are working on a resume. Often asking for feedback on your performance in comparison to others, sometimes conducting small surveys yourself with employees or users, or simply asking the boss for access to those aggregate and micro numbers is all it takes. (Plus, this kind of feedback really helps you improve your skill set personally and looks really impressive at the organization!)
For the other example, how long are the presentations (# of slides, how long does it usually take to present, etc)? For apx how many sales people did you write these for? What was the inside sales people’s feedback? (Again, for this last question, you may have to ask the sales people how effective your presentation was, maybe conduct a small email survey yourself. (Why not!) Eventually you may be able to write something like “8 of 10 surveyed employees said new presentations helped close 10% more deals” etc.) Try to find new ways of tracking and measuring your own impact even if those numbers are not collected by the company.
The best tracking and quantifying is done overtime and out of genuine curiosity. The resume then captures this trait. Hope this helps, let me know if you have further questions!