The Art of Finding Work: Why Do Job Seekers Keep Refusing to Leverage Numbers?

The Art of Finding Work: Why Do Job Seekers Keep Refusing to Leverage Numbers?
The Art of Finding Work: Why Do Job Seekers Keep Refusing to Leverage Numbers? (Ai generated image of a person searching for work on her laptop)

Business is all about numbers, making numbers the language of business. It’s puzzling why so many job seekers make their job search harder than needed by not speaking the language of business. The most common job search advice is to use numbers to showcase what you’re capable of. However, I rarely see a resume or LinkedIn profile populated with numbers (read: evidence) that quantify responsibilities and results.

Numbers drive business decisions. Consider which department largely influences a company’s decision-makers: Accounting. Accounting deals extensively with quantified numbers, presenting management with hard numbers regarding cost allocations, revenue, production, inventory, etc., so they can make informed decisions. 

Hiring is a business decision. The few job seekers who grasp—they get it—that employers speak the language of numbers know they’ll have a competitive advantage by sharing, essentially presenting evidence, results and achieved metrics throughout their resume and LinkedIn profile, resulting in a less arduous job search. Without quantifying numbers, a resume and LinkedIn profile are nothing more than opinions. Based on my experience, 95% of resumes and LinkedIn profiles are nothing more than opinions. Employers don’t hire opinions; they hire results. 

Quantify what you claim. Otherwise, it’s a valueless opinion. 

  • Opinion: “I’m a team player.”
  • Quantified: “I’m a member of an inside sales department with 12 reps. In 2023, we generated $17.5 million in revenue, exceeding our target of $16 million. My contribution was $1.8 million.” 
  • Opinion: “Reviewed accounting records.”
  • Quantified: “Audited accounting records weekly, reducing error rates by 32% within 18 months of my start date.”
  • Opinion: “Increased online sales.”
  • Quantified: “Initiated a social media campaign which increased web traffic by 40%, leading to a 15% increase in online sales.”

Which statements provide information the employer can use to evaluate the candidate’s skills and experience and, therefore, are persuasive? 

Today, we live in an on-demand economy. Each employee performs a labour-based service regarded as a “business unit.” An employee is either a profit center delivering measurable (keyword) value or a cost center not delivering a return for their salary—an employee you don’t want to be.  

Executives and business owners tend to devalue employees who can’t quantify their performance, results, and impact on the company. As a job seeker, you must think like an executive or business owner and quantify your accomplishments. Think of yourself as a sole proprietorship business, looking for a customer rather than wanting to be an employee.

An employer invests in its workforce through salaries and benefits and has the right to expect a positive return on its investment. For this reason, I’ve always viewed my employer as my customer and, therefore, approach my work with the motivational mindset that I must keep delivering measurable value to keep my customer. 

C-level or above executives with business acumen know how much each position they oversee costs, the amount of investment it absorbs, and, most importantly, what it contributes to the business. For example, a VP of Marketing will want to be able to explain, using quantified numbers, such as the increase in market share and campaign costs, to their fellow VPs and the President, CEO, and board how the company’s marketing resources (marketing staff) and investments are being utilized and contributing to profitability. 

C-suite executives and higher are constantly analyzing all activities under their purview for cause and effect while also considering the business impact of reducing or eliminating certain activities. In today’s competitive environment, company executives constantly search for employees and activities that are profit distractions. With changing market dynamics and technological advancements (AI, robotics, self-checkout, automation), they can take advantage of companies are, more than ever, focused on being lean. 

When writing your resume and LinkedIn profile or speaking in an interview, emphasize your cause and effect. Ask yourself: “What measurable effect did I have? What numbers (evidence) can I show that prove I supported my employer’s success?”

A sidebar: Lean management explains an emerging trend I’m seeing among employers: the growing use of independent workers. Businesses increasingly prefer to hire human capital on an as-needed basis (freelancers, third-party vendors, hire on contract), saving on salaries and eliminating having to manage employees’ rising expectations. 

Job seekers talk about having “awesome talent” or “being talented” and how employers need their “talent.” Almost no job seeker ever mentions, let alone offer numbers as proof, how their “talent” makes employers money, which is why the few who do stand out with employers. 

An entitlement mentality has become all too common, resulting in the job market becoming filled with job seekers who feel employers should “hire for attitude” or “give people a chance” while expecting a high salary because of their personal circumstances, as if the employer created their lifestyle. That’s not how it works.

Unless the candidate can quantify the results their talent generates and articulate how their results contribute to revenue generation and/or savings, then there’s no proof their supposed talent offers value worth paying for. Consider it this way: How do you expect an employee to know your value if you don’t provide quantifying numbers?

If you’re struggling with your job search, it’s likely because you’re not showing employers numbers that demonstrate your value.

About Nick Kossovan 47 Articles
Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers “unsweetened” job search advice. You can send Nick your questions to artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

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