It may sound simplistic, but if you don’t know your resume well, you end up seeming unprepared and disorganized during your interviews. That’s not the first impression you want to give a hiring influencer. Your resume is your own marketing material, if you can’t use it to sell yourself as the best candidate for the job, no one else can.
You’d be surprised how many people I’ve seen who freeze when they’re asked to “Tell me about your resume.” You can choose to hire a professional resume writer or career coach to help you polish your resume or you can write it yourself, but you have to be able to talk comfortably about it to interviewers.
Give a short overview of each section in order and be ready to offer a story or two for each that shows why you’re a good fit for the position you want. You want to show the value you offer potential employers. Your answers should be brief, about one to two minutes each, no more. Be ready to offer resume stories about times when you’ve been successful, shown leadership, and learned from a failure.
It’s worth practicing your answers aloud. If you can, have a spouse or friend play interviewer. Repetition makes you feel more comfortable with the material, your answers, and selling yourself to hiring influencers. It’s usually easier for people to sell a product or a concept than it is to sell themselves!
Here’s a few tips on what you can talk about on overviews and resume stories that hit the right highlights in your answers:
Education: Your overview should focus on where you went to university, what degrees you earned, and any specialization. Your resume story can be about how your education applies to the job you want, a student leadership position, or an internship. If your education is in something unrelated, this is a great time to tell a resume story about how an unrelated field makes you a better candidate, such as an art degree teaching you creative problem-solving.
Professional experience: Give your overview with the number of years you’ve been in your field and mention your most relevant position. Then you can touch briefly on each of the 4 most recent positions, relating them to experience that would make you a great fit for this new job. Don’t go on too long, stop after a few positions and ask the interviewer if they’d like you to go further back in time. This can be an ideal section to mention a time when you learned through a disappointment or failure, a common question during interviews.
Skills: Start by touching on the most important skills to the hiring influencer, move to a few related skills, and pause to see if the interviewer wants more. Be prepared to talk about any skill you’ve listed, including languages and technical skills. A good resume story here is how a seemingly unrelated skill made you a better leader or team member in a previous position.
Leadership: Have you had outside leadership positions? Mention them here and talk about how that experience has made you a better business leader and employee. Knowing that you’re focused on personal growth outside the job can help you stand out as a candidate, especially for C-level and Board positions.
You’ll be a top candidate if you take the time and effort to prepare for your interviews by practicing answers that are most relevant to each interview, and when you know your resume from top to bottom.