A Q statement is a sentence (or group of sentences) that expresses a numerical measurement of some action or accomplishment you have performed. It is quantitative. A Q statement is not vague; it's exact. For example, rather than saying you "increased productivity," using a Q statement, you would say that you "increased productivity by 25 percent."
Why quantify a skill? Let's take a look at the following statements and see which of them bears the most weight and leaves the longest-lasting impression:
STATEMENT A: I am a good communicator.
STATEMENT B: I have lectured to more than 12,000 people worldwide on the topic of personal financial planning, and I have worked individually with clients from 19 to 90 years old.
Which of these two statements seems the most evocative? From which one can you make a mental picture? Which will you remember?
Statement B is more descriptive and more concrete. It does not simply make a claim or advance a personal opinion. Statement B uses actual facts and numbers to specifically demonstrate the skills. This kind of clarification gives the listener evidence of the skill and a good idea of the scope of it.
Let's take another example:
STATEMENT A: I'm an excellent manager.
STATEMENT B: I have managed 135 people on projects budgeted for over $2.1 million.
If you really do have an accomplishment of such magnitude as the one above, which statement would serve you better? Which statement would help the interviewer to make the best decision about your qualifications? While "I'm an excellent manager" is a fine thing to say, it would be a lot stronger if it were supported by statement B.
Interviewers these days want to hear specific data. If you don't provide the interviewer with concrete, quantified examples of what you did, the interviewer will very likely ask you to. It's much more impressive to be prepared to offer them yourself, without prompting. And in the opposite direction, it is most troubling if the employer asks for examples of your skills and you can't think of any. To prevent being caught off guard this way, you'll want to prepare several Q statements (targeted to each specific job) before every interview. If you can learn how to quantify your skills now, it will become an ingrained habit, at your command whenever you need to use it.
Let's take a look at the structure and content of some other concrete, quantified statements:
• Since I've become the director of operations, I've been responsible for helping the company to decrease waste by 20 percent, resulting in an overall savings of $1.2 million a year.
• I ran a bicycle sales and repair store with 17employees and gross annual sales of $193,000.
• I operated a multiline phone system and personally handled over 200 calls per day.
• Since I took over as the CEO of this pharmaceuticals company, we have gone from number 347 to number 197 in the list of Fortune 500 companies.
• As a program manager, I instituted and developed a production process that increased profits by 42 percent in the second quarter.
• I acted as a regional manager for 12 offices overseeing
147 salespeople throughout the Midwest.
• As a human resources manager, I initiated and developed a retraining program that improved employee sat- isfaction from 2.7 to 4.1 on a scale of 1 to 5.
• As a production manager, I decreased production time by 6 days a month, resulting in a savings of $360,000 quarterly.
• I maintain a caseload of 65 patients.
• I built a prototype that could tolerate 15 percent more stress than its predecessor.
• My team identified four as-yet-unknown species of ?ora and fauna in the mountainous regions of California.
• I reduced overhead by 25 percent while increasing profits by 43 percent annually.
• I designed a microchip that is 23 percent more reliable than its predecessor.
• I introduced an on-site safety program that decreased workers' compensation claims by 18 percent in 1 year.
• I process more than 250 customer requests daily.
• I won an award for decreasing materials costs from $6.41 per inch to $5.20 per inch.
• I have overseen the landscape design on over 200 projects, costing up to $350,000 per project.
After reading all these different Q statements, you probably see a pattern emerging. first, they all contain action words—verbs such as designed, initiated, saved, processed, and handled. Second, they all end with some sort of number, expressed in monetary amounts, time, and percentages, and numerical amounts of people, actions, or things.
The "formula" for a Q statement would look something like
Verb + (who, what, when, where, how) + Result = Q statement
Notice that the results are specific, concrete, and measurable. And
notice that, they all, at the bottom line, lead to some sort of direct benefit or monetary profit to the company.
There are five ways to quantify your accomplishments:
1. By numbers of people, places, things, units, or actions, such as "handled 200 telephone calls per day."
2. By amounts of money saved or earned, such as "$300,000 savings" or "$100,000 in profits."
3. In percentages (or fractions), such as "70 percent de- crease in waste", or "33 percent increase in production."
4. By time saved, which usually means money saved.
5. By a subjective or objective scale or rank, such as "4.8 on a scale of 1 to 5 for increased customer satisfaction" or "moving from number 360 to number 121 on the Fortune 500 list."