Sure, you can claim to be a hot big league pitcher, armed with a deceptive curve ball and blistering fast ball. But besides an endorsement contract or two, you need solid numbers in the earned run average, strikeout and home run columns  - plus a playoff or World Series appearance on three - to back it up.

PitcherThink of that as you consider this: On paper, most job applicants appear highly qualified. That's because they've embraced the notion that resumes are marketing tools, and use lots of action verbs and superlatives to describe their capabilities and experience. Yet all too often, they don't convince reviewers enough to land an interview. The reason? They don't offer a shred of quantitative proof to back up their claims.

Including metrics and data in your experience and accomplishment statements both substantiates your overall premise, and allows reviewers to reach their own conclusions about your expertise.

The same principle applies to resumes. Don't simply state that you're an expert e-commerce specialist. Back up your claim with a data-rich example:

  • Increased monthly online orders from 630 to 882, a 40 percent rise that exceeded plan by 13 percent and produced additional revenue of $3 million.

Any project manager can claim to deliver projects on time. So be sure to offer specific proof:

  • Delivered phase one of a $3 million ERP project within the promised 90-day timeframe at 70 percent of budget.

Ask yourself these questions about each accomplishment statement on your resume.

  • Why is this accomplishment significant? What improvements did I achieve? Who benefitted from my work? What was the bottom line impact?

    Always link your accomplishments to the company's success and quantify your business impact, because those results transfer to other jobs and industries.
  • How was my success measured? What was expected and delivered?

    Your performance or project plan is a great source of metrics, because it spells out what you needed to achieve and when you needed to achieve it. Your bonus plan might be yet another source of performance indicators. If you don't have a written performance plan, think about the situation you inherited and its current state to quantify your improvements.

Bottom line: Validate your success by including data in each accomplishment statement and describe the specific outcomes you achieved.

-- Leslie Stevens-Huffman