In my recent post about resume trends for 2020, I mentioned the rising popularity, and potential benefit, of adding testimonials into a resume. This one trend sure stirred up a lot of questions. Many people wrote to ask me: ‘what exactly are testimonials?’ and ‘how do I add a testimonial into my resume file?’.
To start, a testimonial comes from professional performance feedback. Details aren’t your words or your opinions; these statements are how others describe you and your abilities. In other words, these details are social proof – which can add both interest and credibility to your resume.
Testimonials, or professional feedback, can be found in performance reviews, emails, or formal recommendation letters.
Yet not all feedback is equal when it comes time to select the best snippet(s) for your resume. A testimonial that carries the most weight, and resonates the best, covers the following:
Comes from a respected source
No, your good friend telling you how awesome you are at your job in a text message doesn’t count. Strong sources include any form of higher-up (boss/supervisor/manager/CEO), customers or clients, or even work colleagues. These people should have experienced your skillsets in action, first-hand.
Shares specifics about your work style/brand/value
A vague ‘Jane did an excellent job’ does not qualify. Nor does ‘Joe really gave it his all.’ Both of these lines are too general and don’t support unique candidacy or personal value. Testimonials need specifics to give them more impact and worth, therefore a stronger statement might be ‘Jane delivered a sales and marketing strategy that helped propel our business to a previously unreached level of revenue.”
Reiterates strengths related to the job you want
Keep your audience in mind when selecting testimonials. What social proof can you provide readers that align with their needs? For example, maybe you are targeting a VP of Sales role and your former CEO once sent you a praising email that thanked you for crushing all of your sales goals last year which helped the company achieve revenue targets. This feedback is related, specific, and supportive.
This should be a given, but often isn’t. Avoid sharing testimonials because you feel you should…or without good reason. All details in your resume should support your candidacy in alignment with each role. And yes, every testimonial should be focused on you! Keep in mind that one testimonial may work very nicely for one job posting, but may not position you in the best light for another role. Be strategically selective.
Is short and concise
Typically, a testimonial is short and to the point. A line or two at most. If the original feedback was long (an entire letter), you don’t have to share the entire thing. Carefully select and share only a sentence or two from the source that achieves all of the above-listed criteria. And don’t forget to reference who provided this feedback (CEO, Big Box Inc.).
How and where do you add testimonials into your resume?
Two rules of thumb.
First, only add one or two testimonials into the resume. Any more and they could start to lose impact.
Second, integrate these snippets of feedback naturally and authentically around and within existing content. These tidbits of feedback are not the center of the show – they are supporting material. Give them a place in the file, but don’t let them overwhelm or distract from core resume content.
Truthfully, testimonials don’t need to be added to any one specific place or section in the resume. They can and should appear where it makes the most sense, so apply them with care.
Below are several examples of how I added testimonials into a resume. Each testimonial was strategically selected for the person, the target audience, how supportive the feedback was (on-brand), and/or the credibility of the person or company which provided it. Some testimonials are placed near the start of the file and some are integrated within specific job experiences that the feedback relates to.
Remember, keep your own resume content authentic to you – including all testimonials. Only use honest feedback in your resume that you can provide more details on (an exact source) if questioned.
Looking for help with developing a stand-out executive resume that helps you win a new, coveted leadership or executive position? I can help: www.careerimpressions.ca