Resumes and interviews. Many people think that a resume is merely the key to get an interview, but I believe that there’s far more involved than that.

There are many good career coaches out there who do not write resumes, and there are many good resume writers who do not coach. Personally, I do both because I believe that coaching and writing are so entwined. The process of developing a new resume should double up as interview preparation.


If a resume is not clear and focused, then the person interviewing will also not be clear and focused. You have to think of the resume as a written presentation about what can be discussed in an interview.

This can make a huge difference when it comes to actually landing the job. When I was a recruiter, my job was to help companies find great candidates to fill positions. If I presented five Accounting Managers to a Controller, I would be certain that all of them were qualified to do the work, but only one of them would be hired.

To do my job, I needed to understand what made each person unique and valuable to the organization, as compared to the other four. These criteria varied – sometimes it was technical skills, sometimes education, sometimes supervisory experience, or perhaps prior industry experience.

But here’s the thing; if their resume was just a description of their prior job duties, there was little for me to use to differentiate that person. I needed to understand how each person would talk about themselves in the interview and what they had to offer in a face-to-face conversation.

The best way to differentiate yourself in an interview is to know how to discuss your “career stories” that will illustrate the impact of your work. If you take the time to study your own career, you will find many “stories” in all these sections of your resume.

  • Skills
  • Knowledge
  • Experience
  • Education
  • Training
  • Additional Things that Bring Value (Such as Significant International Travel)
  • Accomplishments/Achievements
  • Core Areas of Expertise
  • Awards

Sometimes when I’m working with people on their resumes, they will tell me lots of fun and interesting stories about their career in all of these areas. I love hearing about these accomplishments but often notice that they have been too modest to include them on their resume.

You need to properly assess what you have done in these parts of your career so you can explain the work succinctly in writing. That way, you will be clear on all of the details when you walk into an interview. If your resume is not clear, chances are that you will not have the focus you need to engage your prospective employer in a conversation about your work. They go hand-in-hand.

That said, your resume should not overstate or understate your capabilities. It should simply match the way you talk about yourself. It should emphasize the things you want to do, not just the things you can do. Look at your current resume. Does it sound like you? Look like you? Does it have fuzzy writing and fuzzy thinking? Or have you been able to write a clear resume that will lead to clear communication in an interview? If that is the case, then you should go into your next interview with more confidence. And if it isn’t, well, maybe you just need a little help putting it all together!