Why you need an Employment Cheat Sheet

On a whim, I went to the Careers page of the company website. Remarkably, they had a position available – THE position that I desired. I carefully crafted my resume, including their key words, highlighting my qualifications and transferable skills. I wrote a cover letter that addressed their pre-screen questions. I submitted. It couldn’t be this easy, could it?

A few days later, I was called and invited for an interview. Maybe it could be this easy. I researched the company. I prepared. I went in.

And I nailed it. Within only about 15 minutes, it was no longer an interview, it was a conversation. I answered every question, I asked insightful questions of my own. It became apparent that the job was mine.

“Before you go, would you complete this application for us?”

“I would be happy to,” I replied. Almost smugly, I began filling in the blanks. Name, Address, Current Employer, Former Employer, Name of Supervisor…

And I froze. What was his name? I worked with the man for over two years, why can’t I remember his name?! Maybe it’s in my phone. Why is the name not in my phone?!?

I am constantly reminded of how little I really know

I am constantly reminded of how little I really know

I had to leave the field blank, with a promise to follow up later. To make matters even more embarrassing, I was applying for a position as an Employment Specialist. I had just spent 45 minutes convincing the employer how good I am at helping people find jobs, and then I pull a bone-head move like this.

I am now able to use this experience as a teaching moment for my clients, and I urge you, my readers, to learn from my mistake:

When you are job-searching, create and carry with you a Cheat Sheet with your employment and educational experience.

A resume is not an application. A resume is the story of your qualifications for a specific position. A resume does not lie, or stretch the truth, but neither does it necessarily include details that do not support your story. A resume often does not include all the details required by an application.

An application is a legal document, much more detailed and factual than a resume. Simply referring to a resume does not answer all of the details. And, you sign an application at the end, attesting that everything is true and valid.

What to include on your Cheat Sheet:

  • Name
  • Contact info (address / phone / email / LinkedIn URL / Web Site)
  • Current Employer (name of company, address, phone, job title, date started, starting salary, current salary, name of supervisor)
  • Former Employers (name of company, address, phone, job title, date started, date ended, reason for leaving, starting salary, ending salary, name of supervisor) – 10-years’ worth
  • Education (name of school, address, highest level completed / degree earned, graduation date, Grade Point Average, honors / awards, clubs / organizations, offices held)
  • Training / Certifications (type / description, name of educational / technical institute, address, phone, date completed, valid through). Include any certifications that have expired, if you still have the knowledge. DO NOT claim the certification, but you might be able to claim the knowledge.
  • Other Languages / fluency

You are not showing this to anyone, but you will be glad you had it when you need it.

Do you have any interview horror stories? How did you overcome them? Please share in the comments below.

Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.


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