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Power Up Your Resume: Add Testimonials

Power Up Your Resume: Add Testimonials

Add testimonials to your resumeDo you want to make your resume more compelling?

Add testimonials.

Why? The majority of resumes are written in first-person voice. You’re basically saying, “I did this. And I did that.” All this talking about yourself can get monotonous and even hard to believe. (Employers are catching on to the majority of people who lie on their resumes.)

But if you add someone else’s voice to your resume, you add credibility. Yes, it’s true that you could be fabricating these testimonials, but if done correctly, you could pique the interest of hiring managers who liked what your contacts had to say. Follow these tips to find and use testimonials in your resume:

Where to find them:

  • Performance reviews. Scour your performance reviews — you will probably find wonderful quotes you can use (the good stuff only!).
  • References. Colleagues, supervisors, employees, customers, vendors, business associates — anyone who would have something positive to say about you can write you a reference letter. You can then pull the strongest, most relevant quotes from the letter and use in your resume.
  • Informal thank-you notes. Did you ever get an email or card from a grateful customer, your boss, or a team member thanking you for your help or contribution? If so, great — there’s your testimonial.
  • Social networking sites. Some of the leading social networking sites like LinkedIn allow people to add references to your profile page. If you have received a reference, ask the contact for permission to use it on your resume.

How to incorporate them:

  • Add a Testimonials section. You can call the section “Testimonials,” “Supervisor Comments,” “Others Say,” or a heading that best describes the nature of your testimonials. If space is tight, create a final page of your resume called “Addendum” and include the testimonials there.
  • Add to your Qualifications Summary. You can offset a testimonial by centering the quote and writing it in italics at the end of your summary.
  • Incorporate excerpts throughout the resume. This works well on resumes that are in two-column format. Quotes can appear in the left margin, and you get brownie points if they are next to the job that the quote is referencing.
  • Add to a list of accomplishments. If the quote is relevant to the job, you can add it to a bulleted list of job-related accomplishments.
  • Use your cover letter. This is another great place to incorporate a testimonial or two.
  • Be creative! You can include a quote wherever it seems to fit best. But don’t overdo it — testimonials are meant to enhance your resume, not take it over.

Testimonial etiquette:

  • Ask permission before using your reference’s name, contact information, and/or quotes in your resume.
  • Edit the testimonial down to the most important facts, but don’t change what the person has said without permission. Testimonials should be short and sweet or hiring managers’ eyes will start to glaze over. Check out Grammar Girl’s tips on how to use ellipses (scroll to the section on the omission ellipsis) to learn how to cut unnecessary words or sentences from long quotes.
  • Use professional references — the strongest testimonials are from people who know you professionally. We all know Aunt Betty thinks you’re the greatest!
  • Be relevant. Make sure the testimonial supports your resume’s message. For example, if you are seeking a leadership position, look for testimonials that outline project successes, outcomes of management initiatives, and other business benefits.
  • Be current. A testimonial from 30 years ago is virtually useless today. Seek out quotes that refer to recent accomplishments.

Best wishes,
Kim Isaacs

  • It’s true. We can only extol our virtues so far on our own when we’re assembling a resume. Personal preference: Drop a couple into your cover letter if you’re an experienced professional with a lot of accomplishments and duties to fill a two-page resume. If you use your cover letter as the “opening act” for your resume, a well-placed, powerful, quote from someone else would compel people (well, at least me) to read the resume. And that’s what job seekers should aim for in that first step toward a new job: a fair review of the resume that will lead to a job interview.

  • Rick – Thanks for the feedback and advice about adding testimonials to the cover letter! I’ve seen many job seekers do this and set themselves apart from the crowd.Take care,Kim

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  • adding testimonials make it more readable.

  • Contribute a Verse

    What about three quotes at the top of the resume? Is that overdoing it? Thanks!

  • resumepower

    Contribute a Verse – Great question. That depends on whether or not your resume is going to be parsed by an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). If so, it’s best to have your name and contact information at the top of your resume.

    Would it work with your design to include the 3 quotes at the bottom of your resume or in a sidebar? I don’t think 3 is overdoing it, as long as they are short quotes. I hope this is helpful!

  • JLRN

    I’ve received emails from salesman and customers at the company I’m currently with that I want to use in the testimonials section of the resume website I’m building. However, I’m quite sure it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to reach out to these people and ask permission to use the emails they’ve sent in my portfolio – because it would announce I’m looking for a new job. Is it okay for me to use them? I will, of course, make sure any identifying information is removed.