Why Your CV Needs Numbers

The rollback – as an oversight – of interest rates on small savings schemes announced by the government, shows how even 1% can have a huge impact. Today I want to talk about an area where numbers are traditionally missing – resumes. I’ve been helping some folks with recruitment (by posting openings in my network) and others with positioning themselves (sort of like a resume consultation), and I find it surprising that we are hanging on to resume formats we used back in college.  When we write a team review presentation we ensure it is full of metrics – on how we helped the company drive revenue or reduce costs. In today’s analytical world just saying you wrote 50 mailers will not be of much help if you can’t also share data on what was the open rate and conversion rate from those mailers. If your review decks are input focused, you might want to fix that too.

In a previous article I talked about how silence is a strategy for resumes too. But why are CVs so devoid of numbers? Most of us write about our role and what we do but not about the results. Many of us even write about our vision for ourselves and our future employers.  But the results are the “reason to buy” – why the company should consider you. If you’ve wondered why you aren’t shortlisted for jobs that seem like an ideal fit, relook at your resume and see if the story sells.

Another hangover from the past is having just one version of the resume for all jobs. If you’ve been around for a while you would have done different things and can show different angles of your experience based on what the potential role requires.  Rather than offer a “menu” of services, you could try to bring it down to 3 key solutions you can offer, backed up proof of expertise. Is your CV an anachronism? Take a look at my article on 6 numbers that can improve your resume.

Discussing resumes inevitably leads to the topic of “personal branding”. If you get that right, you wouldn’t have to pitch your resume – rather, recruiters will come looking for you. And you will hopefully get a brand premium. More importantly, you get to control the narrative, and ensure you are in the right consideration set.  As Ira Pradhan a corporate communications leader says in this exclusive 3 part series on creating a compelling personal brand, “We are all well aware of the appraisal calibrations where a decision to promote a person is based on opinions/ perceptions of the people whose opinions you didn’t think mattered. Or someone you know gets invited to a really important forum and you wonder how that happened when you are the expert in the topic.”

Another aspect is that AI and automation are shifting the line between blue collar and white collar. Reading Vish Mavathur’s piece on the topic will convince you that many of us are in danger of being outsmarted by bots.  For my first resume I used the services of a data entry operator to format it at the local print shop, then another person ran the printer, and a third person made copies. Today those three roles are redundant from a resume creation perspective.

Sometimes personal branding and positioning can mean millions. Consider the new Xiaomi logo. To me it’s just a tiny rounding of the edges of the old logo. But the designer Kenya Hara says that the new logo “is not just a simple design of the shape,” but an “encapsulation of Xiaomi’s inner spirit”. The logo is intended to convey the essence of a single word: Alive. Duh!  Be that as it may, thanks to his credentials, Hara-san definitely got paid more than the local print shop star who could have done this in 5 minutes for Rs 50. (As an author, another perspective is that this is why everyone needs a good copywriter – without the “story” this logo would be a rounding error. Pun intended.)

Storytelling is an art.  But it does not mean keyword stuffing or writing like Shashi Tharoor. At least not all the time. Take this quote from the pair who paid $70 million in crypto currency to buy a .jpeg file of a collage (yeah, like a Facebook timeline collage, but more arty) “The point was to show Indians and people of color that they too could be patrons, that crypto was an equalizing power between the West and the Rest, and that the global south was rising.”  The Hindu newspaper might be proud of the prose produced by its former employees, but me, I’m not sure what it means! But hey, money talks.

On this happy note let me wish you all a prosperous, predictable, profitable, sustainable, derisked new financial year!

And if the PSPD model brings back happy memories of Infosys, write in!


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