Resume Tip: Why saying a proven track record of success is worthless

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Sep 17

Writing a resume is tough. You are supposed to compress your life into one page or two, or three or five — depending on which resume pundit you listen to — and provide those pithy statements about your work. For help, you search the Google to find out great examples of phrases to use on resumes. One of the phrases that’s sure to come up is “a proven track record of success.”

That describes you, right? All through your life, you’ve had one success after another. It is proven, to you at least. Everyone else? Not so much.

Resumes need specificity

Remember the purpose of your resume: demonstrate your job skills so that you get an initial interview. You can’t do that with general statements about your work. You don’t have a “proven track record of success” unless you show the track record on the resume through results.

The “results” piece is important. It does you no good to simply list all of your previous positions on your resume and the mind-numbing formatting requirements that go along with them and not include your results. Think of it from your customer’s perspective — the one making the decision to interview you or not. What’s more impressive: a grocery list of job skills or stating a job skill and then showing a result from using the job skill?

How to demonstrate success on a resume

The way you prove your success is stating your job skill — project management, for example — and then tie that skill to a result — delivered ten projects on time, under budget with superior customer satisfaction through consistent management of tasks.

In sales, it is called a feature with a benefit. The feature is your job skill. The benefit is the result you achieved using the job skill. People buy things because of the benefit they think they will get from the purchase. What you want purchased is an interview from your resume. So you need to have the person reading your resume see the benefits of possibly hiring you.

Results, of course, can’t simply be stated without proof either. You can’t say “decreased cycle time.”

Proof is shown through using numbers that show the result and stating the reason the numbers came into being.

Anyone can throw out statistics to show whatever point they want showing. Besides, people relate to stories, not dry statistics alone. Well, some people do, but not most.

Your reason for achieving the number is part of your success story. And the reason for the number coming into being provides the logic between the result and your job skill. By “consistently managing tasks” in our project manager example, it shows how you went about getting (the number) ten projects delivered.

Or, if your number is increasing inventory turn by 5%, you could have done that many different ways. By saying that you increased inventory turns by 5% through increasing best selling items in stock and reducing poor selling inventory, you now have a good reason for hitting your number.

Your next action on your resume

Pull out that resume. Take a look at what you think are your critical job skills that are important to potential employers. Do you have concrete results represented by a number in the result? Do you have a reason for each number on the resume?

If not, get your proof and get it in the resume. A “proven track record of success” is worthless without it.


About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations. In 2005, Scot started sharing these hard lessons at, a site devoted to Career Advice for knowledge workers, whom he calls Cubicle Warriors.

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