How to Make Facts and Figures Speak More Loudly

Politicians have mastered the art of presenting information in a way that is most flattering to their point-of-view. This is especially true when numbers are involved — see President Trump talking about his inauguration attendance figures or the GOP Congress discussing the costs of the ACHA.  

Numbers are cherry picked to emphasize their argument.  While we would argue that it’s best to not emulate the worst traits of our politicians, they do offer some insight into how numbers can be used to enhance your prospects as a job candidate.

Finding the Hidden Numbers

Figures almost always add power and credibility to what you claim on your resume, especially when you are applying for a finance job.  Let’s say you worked on a special project or initiative such as implementing a new Accounts Payable software.  

Make sure you quantify the return on investment (ROI)  by thinking of the software investment (monthly cost) vs. time it saved your company multiplied by the rate per hour.  What about other costs such as missed invoices and late fees?  Add those to the figure and you’ll probably come up with a pretty impressive figure for your resume. You can do this same process for anything, no matter how mundane it may seem.

Put it Into Ballpark Figures

As finance professionals, we often think that the more detailed a figure is the better it looks on our resume.  That being said, often times we can’t always determine a precise amount, so go with a ballpark estimate.  

Most hiring managers will be ok with a safe, lower estimate and state it in terms like, “Approximately $5,000 annually.”  This gives your prospective hiring manager a sense of the magnitude of the impact that you had on your prior organization.

Avoid the Ridiculous

Yes, there’s a limit to all this.  Something may look great on a resume, but think of how it will sound when someone asks about it in the interview. For example mentioning that you “increased company profits by 200%” opens yourself up to questions including “what specifically did you do to increase profits?”

If you don’t have a detailed strategy and operational roadmap for how you achieved this, your prospective interviewer will remain very skeptical of your prospects.  Make sure that you always filter your claims through a common sense filter.

When to Leave the Numbers Off

Sometimes it’s best to leave the numbers off a particular resume entry.  This is especially true when you’re talking about a relatively small amount.  For instance, if by your calculations your efforts increased the average $2,000 sale by $10 over the course of a year, it’s going to be difficult to make that sound impressive (even though such a gain can indeed make a difference).  In that sort of case, you’re better off putting it into terms like, “Increased average sales figures in key product line.” And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Look carefully at your resume and apply these methods to add power and boost its strength. You may be surprised at just how much your accomplishments can be enhanced with such techniques. Then the figure you’ll be pondering most is your resume’s enhanced success rate.