Have you noticed how often product marketers use testimonials?
It’s very rare to find a website that doesn’t include rave reviews from clients. And remember those toothpaste ads that used to claim “9 out of 10 dentists recommend this toothpaste?”
Marketers do this because they know how effective testimonials can be. After all, if they tell you how great their product or service is, you might ignore them (they would say that wouldn’t they?!) The real proof comes from what other people say.
I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to buy something new, I go online to read reviews. I don’t want to know what the company says – I want to know what customers think about it.
Reference quotes on your resume do the same thing
If you add positive quotes about your work to your resume, you are showing recruiters that someone else thinks highly of you. Quotes can also convey your personality and work ethic in a compelling and convincing way.
Think about it: if you describe yourself as “a hardworking professional with an in-depth understanding of internet marketing,” your resume will sound like lots of others. Plus the recruiter has no way of figuring out how truthful you’re being.
But look at the difference if you include this quote from your manager:
Brian is always the first in the office and the last to leave. And what he doesn’t know about Internet marketing isn’t worth knowing. I have no idea how he keeps on top of so many new trends – I’m just glad that he does.
All of a sudden, your work ethic and knowledge are brought to life. The reader can actually imagine you at work when she reads this quote. And that\’s the power of adding quotes to your resume.
There are a few ways to find quotes to use.
LinkedIn is my very favorite source because recruiters know they can trust LinkedIn testimonials. That’s because they can’t be faked and you can’t edit them yourself. If you use a quote from LinkedIn, include a link to your profile so that recruiters can check (and also hopefully see other great endorsements while they are there).
You can also look for quotes on your old performance reviews. While these are not checkable, you can improve the sense of authenticity by including the name of the person who wrote the comment.
I also like to look at thank you letters – either from co-workers or from clients. Again, stating who wrote the comment will strengthen the impact of these quotes.
And finally, of course reference letters can also provide good fodder as there is often a bite-sized quote you can use.
Choosing the right quotes for your resume
Look for quotes that have some personality. They should sound like they were written by a real person. And keep them brief (3 sentences at most).
One of my favorites was one a client provided to me. It was a quote from a reference letter and it simply said:
If Sharlene Jones walks into your office looking for a job, hire her immediately. You will never regret it.
How powerful is that?!
Other good quotes are ones that speak directly to a specific skill or character trait that is important in your target roles.
And finally, a quote from a well-known or influential person is always worth including as that person’s name will carry a weight all of its own. (One client of mine had worked as an intern for Tom Brokaw and had a reference letter from the man himself. Needless to say, we used a quote from that letter!)
Where to place the quotes?
This is really dependent on the resume design you choose, but ideally the quotes will be formatted slightly differently from the body text of the resume, so that they stand out and are noticeable.
Here’s one example, where the quote is used in the header.
Here’s another where quotes are set apart in their own separate section.
Quotes on a resume really do pay off
It’s important to note that not everyone will love the quotes on your resume. Some people are traditionalists and this kind of stuff doesn’t go over well with them.
Don’t let their critiques bother you. Your resume will never please all of the people all of the time. Your goal is to attract the attention of some of them, and in my experience, well-chosen quotes are one of the very best ways to do this.
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