Know Thy Resume (and how I biffed an interview)

Duh!  I should have known better!(for those that are wondering, I’m done with my conferences, everything was spectacular, and my Blogging for Business conference was well attended and, in my view, a great success – thanks for your support!)

Last year I had to put my resume together. After I had an acceptable draft, and had collected all the information that I hadn’t had to care about for a while (official job titles, the names of my degrees, etc.), I got an e-mail from my dad. He had hired a professional resume writer for his own resume, and sent me a copy so that I could take what was applicable.

So I super-charged my resume by borrowing some of the stuff on his resume. One thing I liked (not sure if resume writers would recommend this) was a section at the top with keywords… of course, writing a resume is a time for self-praise, and I liked all of the cool words that he had on his resume. I had to take a few out, but kept most of the flattering descriptions of him, er, me. You can see my “Expertise” section here (I didn’t highlight Change Management on the real resume, just for this post):

Resume - list of experiences

And then I sent that resume all over the place – to about 100 different postings. When I went in to a second interview with a really hot IT company, one of the interviewers asked “On your resume it says ‘change management,’ what exactly does that mean?

This is what went through my mind, at the time:

Hm, I have no idea where I put that on my resume, but of course I know what change management means. I’ve lived through change management and could write a (very) short book on it! Do you want to know about personal change management, or change management as it pertains to teams, projects, companies? Just tell me what you want to know and I’ll tell you why I’m an expert in it! Dang, I wish I could remember what job/position I listed change management under!

But, what I said was something like this:

That’s on my resume, huh? Where exactly is that?

Needless to say, they weren’t impressed as I fumbled my way through that one.

Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.

Oh well, that’s okay, a few months later the company went under.

But I learned to not just review the list of tough interview questions, and have my “tell me about yourself” elevator pitch honed, but to also know my own resume!

2 thoughts on “Know Thy Resume (and how I biffed an interview)”

  1. A lot of resume writers recommend including the list of key words like the one you have listed at the top of the resume clip that you show in this post. I don’t recommend doing that because the reality is that potential employers want to hear about tangible examples of times that you have used skills (in this case change management) rather than just seeing a list of words that pertain to stuff that you may have done.

    I think if you write a resume that focuses on accomplishments and you integrate key words that are relevant to each accomplishment into the document it helps you to think about the specific examples you can use in an interview so you don’t get tripped up by questions like the one your interviewer asked. The funny thing about this story is that Jibber Jobber is leading change for employees/job seekers/networkers/ and entrepreneurs. You are a change leader!


  2. Thanks Liz, I totally agree with peppering the resume with keywords like this. As a hiring manager, when I see a listing of industry or business buzz words it’s kind of a turnoff, because I expect the person to be hot stuff. An exception, I think, would be things that I had like bilingual… that’s not necessarily a keyword that all candidates better have.

    As far as being a change leader, I don’t know … I do take pride in the few e-mails or calls I have received from people that tell me that they had been neglecting their careers until they read a few months of my blog… and now they are getting their career strategy in order! That’s pretty cool.

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