Like it our not, we live in a time and society where the size of things matter – especially bank accounts, income levels, and other external gauges of success. Numbers matter more than at any point in history, to businesses and public sector organizations at all levels. Reasons for that are many:
- Steadily shrinking budgets coupled with ever increasing demands,
- Economic pressures from global competition to drop prices and slash costs,
- Continual challenges to prove an organization’s “worth” in order to receive funds from investors or government bodies,
- Etcetera, etcetera
To a prospective employer, your numbers matter. Career Counselors have taught for decades the principle that you will generate a job offer as soon as the right employer is convinced the value you bring to the table significantly outweighs what it costs them to have you on payroll. Although the stellar quality of your work, client relationships, professionalism, and the like may be indicators of the value you can create, nothing speaks to employers louder than tangible results – supported by numbers. I’ve had many a client sit in my office and tell me what a major impact they made expanding the customer base, lowering turnover, saving time, or the like in their jobs. I’ll say something like, “That’s great – could you give me some idea of how much?” A lengthy silence follows and then, “Um… I didn’t really keep track.” This scenario happens too often.
Those kind of lengthy silences do NOT serve you well in job interviews. If your cover letter says you’ve been successful at lowering costs or growing market share without a trace of numerical indicators, it will unlikely convince a prospective supervisor to interview you. Important Side Note: Numbers to support the fruitfulness of your efforts position you for greater pay increases and bonuses at performance review time with your current employer.
Regardless of how diligent you’ve been in the past keeping track of numbers related to your accomplishments or contributions, start doing more of it today. However you record it – a note on your cell phone, a note pad in your desk, or whatever – just do it. Actual numbers might not be available, but you can estimate. For example, someone whose TLC with a customer prevented the loss of a key account to a competitor may have increased sales by thousands of dollars. Start these actions now:
- I recommend a regular check-in. Ask what you did well in the previous week or two at work.
- Ask what lead to or contributed to the success in terms of income, profitability, cost reduction, test score, participation, growth, or other tangible results.
- Then put real or estimated numbers to those results in terms of counts, percentages, dollars, hours, etc.