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Albert Einstein was, perhaps, the smartest man the world ever knew. Among his vast list of achievements is the theory of relativity, which explores the link between the gravity of objects and space-time, but you probably knew that to some extent (I didn’t).

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While Einstein’s brilliant theory of relativity is important to the constitution of the universe, there is another theory that is more important to your job search: The resume theory of relativity.


The Theory of Relativity

Exactly what is the resume theory of relativity? It is the idea that resume skills mentioned on one resume will be given equal value compared to the same skills listed on another resume. In other words, a woman with 10 years of Microsoft Excel experience is considered equal in achievement to an inexperienced high school student when the professional and the student list Excel as a “skill” on their resumes with no other context.


Quantify Experience

To avoid this gross misrepresentation, resume skills must be quantified with experience. Consider the following two Excel items found on different resumes:

  • Excel          
  • Used Excel daily to analyze large pools of data by creating pivot charts and pivot tables. Have completed over 500 different Excel projects

Which, the first or the second, better demonstrates the author’s ability to use Microsoft Excel?

Answer: Clearly the second. Why? It provides context about the author’s use of Excel, and by doing so, eliminates the relativity present in the first example.

Let’s try another example:

  • Hard worker
  • Increased revenue 20% by working 60+ hours per week for 2 months to create more efficient company collection methods

Again, option two is much stronger than option one because a quantifiable example is used instead of the term “hard worker.”

By the way, did you notice the complete omission of the term “hard worker” in option two? Soft skills like “team player,” “organized,” and “hard worker” should not appear on a resume at all. In the eyes of an employer, a soft skill appears on a resume when experience is too weak to be quantified. Don’t say that you are a hard worker, prove it by quantifying your experience.



An understanding of the resume theory of relativity will lead to a powerful, convincing demonstration of your experience and build your resume skills section. The next time you feel tempted to label yourself a “hard worker” on your resume, remember this quote by Albert Einstein: “All knowledge…starts in experience and ends in it.”

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