Category Archives: Resumes & Interviewing

How to take control of any interview

Here is a guest post I recently wrote for Gradversity, a site that helps recent grads find and launch rewarding and successful careers.

This post offers good insight into how to do what many people forget to do during interviews, maintain control.



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Millennials Interviewing Millennials, Top Interviewing Tips

Here is a guest post I recently wrote on Job Mob, a great global website that offers advice for job seekers and those who are already in careers.

This guest post offers perspective on how to interview a millennial.





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How do you unlock the front door?

I have a riddle for you…

What one thing can mean the difference between being in the career and job you have always dreamed of or not, but is often confusing, kinda scary and at times just plain hard to get right?

One hint… it is often the key to the front door for any company you want to work for.

That’s right, it’s your RESUME.

Yes, the first thought that came into your head is right! There are blogs, books and experts that talk (AD NAUSEUM) about resumes. How to write them, what to include, what not to include, “tips” and “tricks.”

Instead of going down that path, I figured I would take a step back and look at the basics.  One of the most famous coaches in the history of sports is UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.  It was well known that Wooden would start from the very beginning with all of his players to build them to be the best from the ground up.  Yet he didn’t start with how they shot or passed the ball, he started with how they tied their shoes and tucked in their jerseys when getting dressed.  That may seem crazy, but it is also a very sound strategy. Think about this: if you have blisters on your feet because you didn’t tie your shoes properly, do you think you could play your best?

In that spirit let me hit you with my resume basics:

  1. Your resume is a reflection of you.  People will judge a book by its cover.  While it is so hard to fit yourself onto a piece of paper, there are still ways to show your true self.  Check out these: … You will find some of them are strange but some are really cool and unique. I am not saying we should all go out and turn our resume into an origami swan, but think of ways to spice it up so that you stick out in the pile.  This “reflection” of you starts with your name. How you write your name says a lot about your personality and level of self confidence.  That doesn’t mean you should write your name is 75pt font, but the type of font you choose and the layout of your header is the very first thing people see
  2. Write about what YOU did for each position you had. One of the basic mistakes people make is that they make each entry about their job more of a job description, basically copying what would be listed under the job if it were posted on an online job-board. While having a couple sentences or a bullet point related to an overview of the job itself is important to provide context, you want to focus more directly on what YOU specifically did in the job.  Talk about how you increased productivity for the group by implementing a new process and how you opened up the organization to a new market.  Plus USE NUMBERS. As has been said, numbers are a universal language.  Don’t just say you planned and coordinated an industry event, say you “planned and coordinated an industry event for 2000 people, increasing attendance by 35% and improving attendee satisfaction scores by 21%.”
  3. Don’t lie, but use “Spin” to your advantage.  Now I don’t want to get close to any gray area on these basics, so I am in NO WAY saying that you should stretch the truth in any job. Lying on your resume is a BIG no-no. Just don’t do it, I have heard countless stories of how doing this has been lethal.  On the other hand, you should describe what you have done in the best light possible.  I had an internship at a potsticker company (they make the Ling Ling eggrolls and potstickers with the panda on them, super delicious), and on my resume I put that I “managed product sample distribution to market research firms & retail chain regional buyers.”  While this does sound pretty cool what it really meant was that I would call up the local gas station and see if they had an dry ice, go get the dry ice, go to the back of the factory and get some product samples from the freezer, put them in boxes with the dry ice, call Fedex to come pick up the package and then follow-up the next day to ensure the package was delivered to the right person.  As you can see, I didn’t lie or embellish what I did in any way, I just described it in the best light possible.
  4. Interests. Most people overlook this part of their resume. Yet this is a big mistake.  First off, your resume screener will look here for things to speak with you about during the interview (to see if you have anything in common), but  more importantly they will look at it to determine if you are a fit with the company 0r group’s culture.  Many will write about themselves in a generic manner: Enjoys cooking, jogging and reading.  Instead you should step out there and show how you are unique, but be specific and mention something that will allow you to tell a story about yourself.  For example, in my resume I don’t just say I “enjoy traveling,” I say that I am an “avid international traveler (33+ countries visited).”  I also mention that I am “UC Berkeley’s Mr. Business” which ALWAYS gets referenced by anyone who reads it. Plus it allows me to share a funny (and memorable) story allowing me to stick out from others at the very lease as “that Mr. Business-guy.”

My list could continue, but I will leave at those four core things.

Let me end, though, with showing a resume that truly fits the character it describes…



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What NOT to do after an interview

Recently I spoke to a friend of mine who has been applying for various jobs. She was very excited about one in particular that she had reached the 2nd round of interviews for.  She mentioned that the interview went well and that she was hoping to get to the next round.

She also showed me the email she sent to the interviewer… I wish I had seen her note before she hit “send”…

Her “Thank You” email read as follows:

Subject: Thank You!


It was a great pleasure speaking with you yesterday. Once again, thank you for your time.

I am glad we had an opportunity to connect regarding my strong interest in [my company’s name] and the [Name of the program]. I am confident that my professional and leadership experiences, as well as my solid interpersonal, strategic thinking, and analytical skills would make me an invaluable asset to your company. Throughout the course of my interview process, I’ve only grown more enthusiastic about [my company’s name] and the [Name of the program].

It was great to learn about your experiences and the unique opportunities that the program has provided your career thus far. This reaffirms [my company]’s commitment to developing aspiring leaders, and providing its employees the flexibility to apply and hone their skill set in diverse business areas, to support the professional and personal growth of its most important assets, its people.

I look forward to hearing from your team within the next week.  Additionally, please look for an email from Starbucks with a $5 gift card in appreciation for your time. Enjoy!

Kind Regards,

While yes, this is a nice gesture, the message behind it could be totally taken wrong. And actually was taken wrong by the interviewer. When my friend received a response she was horrified…


Subject: RE: Thank You!


Thank you for your email below.

If I may, I wanted to provide you with a little feedback.  Please note that I am passing along this message after having already submitted my decision to the recruitment team.  That said, my reaction has no positive or negative effect on your candidacy (as I saw this after submitting things).

Your note was fine. It had some detail to it and both mentioned your strong points and referenced me as an interviewer.  However, in these notes you may want to be more specific, not generic like it appears below. Reference something specific that we spoke about (a job I had or something we talked about so it makes it appear that you were engaged in what I was saying about my background and experience), any job would have “unique opportunities” and anyone who interviews you will have had “experiences” at their company.  Be specific.  This point is only a side note to my main thought, though.

The gift of a Starbucks card is thoughtful however can come across as inappropriate, which is how it came off to me. While I am sure that your intention was to thank me, if you take a step back I think you can see that the gift comes across like you want to influence my decision. Therefore, I cannot accept this gift. I would urge you not to do this in the future.  A thank you note should be fine on its own.  And actually getting my address to send a handwritten note is a much better idea since most people do not do that anymore- a handwritten note makes you seem unique and has a good touch to it.  It is much easier to shoot off an email to someone than to actually write something out by hand.

If you are set on giving a gift, here are a couple thoughts: (1) Give the gift AFTER the decision on your candidacy has been made.  You are currently still amidst the interview process.  If it was really about your appreciation of my time (like you said) you would want to give the gift if even if you did not get the job. Sending it before makes it seem like a bribe.  (2) Give a gift that is personalized to the person. If we had talked about coffee during our interview that is great, but I strongly dislike coffee and have actually never really had a cup of coffee in my life. This specific gift seems impersonal for me.

When I was promoted earlier this year I owed a great deal to one of the human resource managers.  What I did was investigate what she liked, and I gave a gift accordingly (with a handwritten note). This was also done after I signed the offer letter, not before.




Luckily my friend took this experience as an important lesson: recognizing and thanking someone is a key part of the interview process. In fact I know some people that would not hire someone who did not send a follow-up note or thank you.  That said, be careful of the message a gift sends. Gifts are great, but they need to be done at the right time and in the right way.

Mr. Biz, OUT!


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