Interview with Brian Robben from "The Golden Resume"

I interviewed author Brian Robben. Brian has three books, "The Golden Resume","How to College", and "Freedom Money". In the episode, we talked about resume strategy and interview tips. I encourage you to listen to the full episode at or iTunes.

One of the first tips Brian offered was about creating a more calculated resume. Many people focus too quickly on the act of writing their resume and not enough on the process prior to writing. Before you write, sit silently for an extended period of time and determine which accomplishments and personal attributes you want to highlight. This requires first understanding which companies you are targeting, their mission, and their greater goals beyond just what is listed on the job posting. This research, when combined with a silence session, should help you focus the resume you are about to start writing. Too often people skip this hard mental work and immediately start editing an existing resume. Only to end up with a mundane resume hours later even more generic than when they started. Sitting silently is a technique Brian suggests to clear out that mental clutter and make strategic choices in your resume that highlight the skills, or stories, that will land you the job.

Anyone can write a generic resume; Modern job seekers tailor every single resume with calculated choices to pass through applicant tracking systems and stand out to recruiters. This takes more time, which is why many skip the strategic part of writing. But that extra time and the selective nature of picking roles should result in more interviews later. Don't be the candidate that applies to 20-30 positions per week, many of which are a poor fit for your skills. Instead, spend more time selecting, sitting silently, and then apply only to a handful of positions you match best.

If multiple positions are coming up on your searches rank them by best match and other criteria (commute, desired industry, pay, etc) The first one you apply to needs the process described above, but so does each one after. Don't edit the resume for one, and submit it unchanged to all the rest. Not only will this shortcut start the fall into obscurity, submitting a saved resume over and over again increases the likelihood of errors. A typo in the first revision is copied into all subsequent applications because you avoided re-working the resume for each job. Moreover, if you only apply to a handful then you can set resume writing aside and put some energy into networking. Rather than applying to positions that are a mediocre fit invest time networking which will be much more strategic as well as rewarding.

“They check off the small boxes, but they don’t have the true strategy. It kinda makes sense. It takes a lot more time to come up with that strategy.” ~Brian Robben

Brian's advice on interviews went well beyond some silent time or going for a run to think. Sitting and thinking for an indeterminant amount of time prior to drafting a resume is one phase of the process. You should invest even more effort preparing for an interview.

Preparation involves matching your interview stories with the accomplishments you summarized in the resume. For example, a marketer may have a bullet point describing increased conversion. It may even mention a little bit of a method applied to increase those conversions. In the interview, you should be able to expand that story even more so that a complete narrative forms and the interviewer concludes the interviewee is an effective marketer. For any role, your stories should be practiced because adrenaline and anxiety in the interview could make recall more difficult. Matching the appropriate work story to common questions takes practice. Since you don't know every question prior to an upcoming interview at least start by knowing the stories behind each bullet on your resume.

Mentally preparing for writing and practicing your stories before you interview will definitely slow you down if you have not been doing these things before. Don't confuse activity with effective actions. This extra time now should put you on track to get more interviews and land more job offers later. Take a moment to sit in silence now because there is no silver medal in job seeking. Only one candidate gets a job offer and that honor is reserved for those with a golden resume and a polished interview.