Let's say that you're Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and you've got to submit a resume to the next team you want to play for. If he wrote a resume like most resumes I see, he'd write something like this:
Chicago Bears, 2009-current
- Responsible for directing on-field offense of professional football team.
- Called plays, led huddles before each play.
- Play-to-play responsibilities include handing ball to running back, throwing passes, and running with ball as necessary.
Hardly inspiring, is it? It tells what his job responsibilities were, but not what he actually achieved. Let's rewrite some of those bullets with some of his statistics.
- Lead Bears offense to 11-5 season, and to the NFC championship game in the postseason.
- In 2010, threw for 7.58 yard passing average with a 60.4 completion average.
- etc etc etc
See how the second resume is focused on results, not responsibilities? Your resume should be thought out the same way. When you talk about results, you need numbers to tell the story. Plus, numbers draw the eye and give your resume the detail that makes it interesting.
"But Andy," I hear you saying, "we're just humble programmers and graphic designers and system administrators. We don't have the collective power of the NFL stats keepers keeping track of all this for us!" Indeed you don't, which is why you have to do it yourself.
Start keeping track of your own stats. Start today and look around you. Think about "how many" for all the things that are part of your workday, and put them on your resume. (You ARE keeping your resume current, right?)
- How many people on your team?
- How many lines of code in the codebase?
- How many users use your software?
- How many users on your network? How many servers? How much storage?
- How many support calls do you take per day? Per week?
- How much money has your work saved the company?
- etc etc etc
Your goal should be to have at least one number in each bullet point, supporting the story that the text tells.
So few resumes have any sort of numbers or statistics on them, you'll put your resume ahead of 90% of the other applicants' resumes.
Credit for this way of thinking about resumes goes to Rich Stone, in his blog post Resume and Interview Preparation Tips. Thanks, Rich!