Why is estimating so tough?
Candidates, especially in finance and technology, seem to have a difficult time presenting estimates on their resume. I found this phenomena interesting, since you’d think that candidates from these fields would easily be able to estimate - because they are so analytical.
With many clients, their analytical nature is the very thing that makes estimating so difficult. Having some personal experience in analytical fields, I eventually recognized that many of these candidates have built their careers upon being right 99.9% of the time. There’s a discomfort in many of these candidates that making an estimate without having all the back up details can bring them far out of their comfort zone. Because there’s a fear that the estimate might be wrong.
But here’s the thing - it’s not going to be audited. No one will lose money based on a resume estimate that is less accurate than desired. In addition, resume estimates don’t have to be accurate to within the nth degree.
How to estimate on your resume:
How do you estimate when you don’t have full information? Many job seekers could improve their resume by including estimates. While I never suggest that a candidate lie on their resume, there are situations where an educated “guestimate” is the best answer available.
There may be situations where a candidate no longer has access to critical information - for example, prior jobs. There may be other situations where the candidate didn’t have access to the final results of their work. In these cases, most candidates won’t include an estimate, because they aren’t confident in the accuracy of the number. These are cases where making a best efforts guess, based on the information you can access (or remember), is a candidate’s best option.
Just be careful when you guestimate - be reasonable in your estimates. It’s critical that you can answer any interview questions about your accomplishments confidently - you don’t want to give the impression that you’re embellishing or lying. Rather, just say that your figures were estimates, and move on to describe the accomplishment.
What should you estimate on your resume?
Include estimates that add depth and importance to your accomplishments. Estimate how your accomplishments effected your employer. An accomplishment that generated a million dollars of profit will be viewed as more important than one that generated 2 bucks.
Remember that your next employer is hiring you to solve pain and make money for the organization. Since they probably don’t know you well, hiring managers use past accomplishments as a proxy that you will create value for your next employer. Estimates can emphasize your accomplishments, to show they made a significant impact on your past employer.
Readers - How do you estimate on your resume? Employers and recruiters - how do you view candidate estimates? What do they tell you?
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