I’ve already told you how important the right key words are in terms of getting your resume/bio/blog found by a recruiter. But lately I’ve been thinking about what some of those words mean during the interview process. <Taking off my Microsoft hat>
Today’s “Resume Word of the Day” is “Expert” (OK, I am not going to do this daily, but it was fun to type that)…
For some reason, when someone has put the word “expert” on their resume, it really draws my attention…I guess it’s the potential mix of knowledge and ego that makes me wonder what the deal is. Especially since it’s such a subjective term. So my advice to you is understand why you are using the term and then use it rarely and with caution. Here’s why:
1) It’s better to quantify your expertise than claim it. For example, you may be recognized in your industry for something specifically. You may want to quantify this expertise by explaining the conferences you speak at and the results you have driven in that space. This turns a subjective claim into something real. And makes you look humble in the process.
2) You don’t know who is on the other side of the interview table. Is it possible that this person knows more about the subject than you do? Is it possible they have a different idea of what an “expert” means (not necessarily mastery of a skill, but industry-wide prominence as an authority). If so, they are going to drill you big-time in the interview and the result might not be good. Unless you know who you are going to be interviewing with and their background, I probably wouldn’t take the risk.
3) Exceptions: when you are one of a few noted and published authorities on the topic. I’m thinking Warren Bennis on leadership, Joe Paterno on coaching college football (OK, don’t argue…think back a while).
I recall a situation where I interviewed a candidate that claimed to be an expert in a space I know very well. I had to question him thoroughly about this area of expertise and was disappointed that he didn’t “blow me away” with his answers. Claiming expert status sets an incredibly high bar. And few jobs require someone to be an “expert”.
And it also brings the ego of the interviewer into play. If you say you are an expert, they just have to figure out if they know more than you. It’s a temptation they can’t resist. And this isn’t really a very good place to go in the interview, in my opinion. Not saying it’s right…just human nature.