On many sales and marketing resumes, I almost always find a section where the applicant lists his or her skills (or perceived in most cases) in a separate, but bold expertise section usually placed near the top of the CV. Because many of these individuals have done enough research to know to put the key terms on their resume, naturally, they are charming, quick witted, energetic and intelligent enough to get past middle management.
Sadly enough, in many companies, the reason is that middle management typically can't define these intangible "areas of expertise" themselves. Thus, the applicant scoots past having to dig in and define the terms during the interview and gets the offer. However, middle management is the highest level they will ever get by relying solely on wit and experience. There are two main reasons for this:
1. At good companies, upper management personnel of a mid to large size company are trained on these tactics and know them left and right, up and down. Trying to slide these skills past C-level executives on your resume without being able to confidently discuss them in a matter that sounds intelligent and engage in a conversation of substance is like trying to pass contraband past a group of police dogs.
2. The applicant does not know the skills they list. Yes. They know that they are crucial and are intelligent enough to decipher that, but they don't learn the foundations and are unable to implement these key points. In business, if you are not learning, you are not growing and if you don't have the finer points of business down, your charm and smooth talking will only take you so far.
Now, we must define as to what are the typical key points that are falsely represented on a resume?
1. Negotiation tactics - I interviewed a young professional the other day who had the word "negotiation" under her skill set. She was a little snooty; therefore I decided to do a test. I said, "Oh, I see that you like negotiating, what types of tactics do you use for contract disputes?"
The response was exactly as expected, "Uh, well, sometimes you have to walk away." What a lot of people don't understand is that to learn true negotiation tactics, to become knowledgeable about, requires a lot of reading. It's no secret that there are entire classes devoted to the subject it in our nation's law schools. However, to know enough to speak and learn basic negotiation as, eventually you dive into psychology, you don't have to look much further than your Barnes and Noble.
I began studying negotiation very thoroughly about a year ago and we do get higher fees than our competition receives; I know that for a fact and it happens frequently. However, would I feel comfortable speaking to an expert on the fact? My comfort level would, depending on the person, be small to mid-level.
Therefore, if you're just throwing out the term on your resume, you are inevitably going to meet an individual who knows the ins and outs and, conversely you will not look professional and your resume nor yourself will hold any integrity in that company's eyes for a long, long time.
2. Consultative selling - this one is often misused in entry-level to 2 - 4 year level resumes. Many people have the misconception that consultative selling is quite basic and is simply the act of not being aggressive with a customer on the phone. This is quite off, again. People tend to put the phrase down as an expertise on their resume and don't have the slightest clue as to what this sales tactic truly involves.
Any smart, thorough interviewer, who knows the ABC's of selling and business development, is going to ask the interviewee to define the term. Then, if the interviewer has not read up on the tactical revenue generation sales method, they are ousted. Again, this could quickly be remedied by the one verb that is not implemented enough in both the job seeking and business world. That word, of course, is "reading." Better yet, I prefer "studying."
3. SEO - this skill is all over marketing resumes. Also, the bad part about someone having it on their CV is that the results from search engine optimization campaigns are a lot more tangible than the aforementioned 2 resume kinks.
New Rule Job Seekers Should Implement: If you don't consider yourself an expert (or close to it), don't put it on your resume. If you want it on your resume, become an expert at it.