Practical methods for adding more numbers to your technical resume

Frequent advice given to technology professionals is to add more numbers to their resumes. It's best practice. Google recruiters ask for them. It helps prove that your programming skill has applications in the real world – that you're able to make things better, faster, cooler as the results of your skills. And at Leet Resumes, where we write technical resumes for technology professionals for free, it's how we showcase your abilities in the most effective way.

And the reason that advice is consistent is because more numbers on your resume helps you generate additional interview requests. After all, that’s the primary function of your resume – to get you interviewed. Secondarily, a resume is a useful page of notes to help you perform better in interviews when discussing your past career performance, but its primary purpose is getting interview requests.

As a result, you should write your resume to maximize the chances that you’ll get selected for an interview. In this post, I’ll discuss why including numbers on your resume increases your chances of attracting positive attention from future bosses, HR managers and recruiters.

What engineering managers look for on a technical resume

Writing is about communicating well. Communicating well means understanding your audience – knowing what they’re looking for, and providing it to them.

Your future boss, right now, is looking for a technology professional who can fill an open role and solve some of their problems. They need more hands to help with the backlog, their AWS environment is scaling quickly and they need additional DevOps professionals, or they believe their back-end team could use a boost to improve performance.  Whatever the reason, they have a need to hire someone like you.

Similar to how you select a tool, a repo, a library, a pattern, to use when you want to get something done in your job, a hiring manager is looking to select interview candidates who can help them get something done in their job. When scanning through resumes to select candidates for interviews, those engineering managers are looking for someone who can help solve their existing and future problems. So the resume review process of your future boss is to look for people who seem to have the highest likelihood of solving problems similar to the ones they have now and in the future.

You make it easy on them when you describe, in detail, the most important problems you’ve solved, or contributed to solving, in the past. Sharing the types of problems you’ve solved, the types of solutions you’ve implemented, and the types of accomplishments you’ve had, all provide good information to the hiring manager.

This technique is most effective when you use specific numbers to demonstrate how well you solved problems and at what scale. Numbers are objective, and therefore make a better and more effective case for you. Numbers are more persuasive than merely sharing your opinion that the improvement was significant, large, or important. And the best way to share numbers is with the Action - Number - Method pattern for resume bullet points.

Using The Action - Number - Method Pattern

You get the biggest impact from sharing your accomplishments in your resume bullet points, when you use the Action - Number - Method bullet point pattern.

This pattern describes your achievements using: 

  • An Action - something grew, shrank, increased, decreased, got more efficient, cost less, was eliminated, or other similar verbs that indicate a positive change in state;
  • Combined with a Number - a specific number of units, dollars, or percentage points increase or decrease that happened because of your action;
  • Combined with a Method - a brief explanation of what method you used to get this result.

Technical resumes written by engineers tend to focus only on the Method - what technologies, or tools, or system you used to achieve your goal. Adding Action and Number helps engineering managers understand your results and your impact, which counts as much, if not more, than your method.

It's helpful for you to consider that most resumes that hiring managers review are filled with methods. All of your competition for a role have shipped, wrote, developed, worked on or were responsible for various pieces of technology. Everybody's resume has a fairly full list of activities in which they took part. So yours won't stand out if it does the same.

Instead, set your resume apart from the others by using numbers to describe the change that happened because you were there. The reason Leet Resumes focuses so heavily on quantified data is that it has a significant, differentiated, and positive impact on how your resume is perceived by hiring managers. The presence of Actions and Numbers on a resume make it much, much easier for your future boss to pick your resume out of the pile for an interview.

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