It’s Not Bragging

CATEGORY: Interview Best Practices
POSTED: April 17, 2014 at 1:39 pm

At least once a month I work with a client who is concerned about bragging in his or her resume. As I conduct the interview to find ways to quantify experiences and accomplishments, I often get a nervous chuckle with this reply: “Gosh, I just don’t want to sound like I’m bragging.”

The dictionary defines bragging as speaking – or in this case, writing – of one’s own achievements arrogantly or boastfully. The vast majority of my clients describe themselves as humble even when they are go-getters who work hard within teams or are leaders who want to ensure their teams are credited for hard-earned success. Humble, according to the dictionary, means to be unpretending or unpretentious.

“But can you brag humbly?” they ask, to which I explain that it is not bragging when you present your experiences and accomplishments in quantified terms that let the numbers do the talking without excessive adjectives. In other words: facts and not fluff.

I recently spoke with a local business leader to get his input on why it is important to provide quantified information on a resume. Daryl Skoog is the Executive Director of MicroPlanet Technologies, a consulting firm supporting large microfinance networks; previously he was the EMEA Chief Information Officer for FEDEX. With extensive experience in two very different business environments, Mr. Skoog knows first-hand the hiring manager’s perspective. He estimates that less than 10% of the resumes that have crossed his desk and email have results that are quantified. “You have to tell me what you can do for me in quantifiable terms,” he said. “And I would expect to see it in the resume.”

Mr. Skoog also says that job seekers need not worry about bragging when they have the right attitude about their accomplishments. “I like when they have really thought about what they can do to make the business successful,” he said.

If less than 10% of candidates are providing examples of their results that are backed up with numbers, dollar amounts, and percentages, then my clients are already ahead of the pack when we work together to discover how to include quantified information in their resumes.

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