Photoshopping Your Career Is a Career Search Killer

By Eric Horwitz '90CC of the Columbia Career Coaches Network

I hear it all the time. I have three interviews next week: one Skype, one phone, and one in person. What should I wear? What questions will they ask? If I get the job, how much should I ask for? Do I really want these jobs? Maybe I don’t want any of them.


One week later, not one of the interviewers have returned your call after your first interview. It makes no sense. I was so friendly; they were so nice and polite to me. I have sent three follow up emails and nothing. I hate them. They are so rude. When I have a job, I would never do something like that…(#yesyouwill)

What is wrong?

I have coached many people through this situation. I see career searching as a methodical process, and all challenges can be diagnosed and solved with enough research, analytics, and intuition.

Finally, after seeing this too often, I realized that most people don’t enjoy looking for jobs and hate rejection. So, an inordinate amount of time is spent on resume writing and cover letter drafting. Font selection, verb choice and embellishment, and an emphasis on spacing rather than meeting people become the intense focus.

I like to refer to this as Photoshopping and Insta-filtering your career. The company is looking so forward to meeting the person after sifting through so many resumes with misspelling and a lack of relevant experience. Finally the recruiter has found their perfect candidate, and you are it. But like a "match date" gone wrong, the reality doesn’t match the packaging. (You know, like how some of those filters get rid of your bags under your eyes and give you an instant tan). And in Psychology 101, there is no greater disappointment that expectations that do not match reality.

So, here are some tips to match your resume to your true self and set expectations right. Remember, the goal of a first interview is to get a second interview. So let's take a look at some good processes to employ.

1. Tone down your resume language a bit. If you are an introvert, don't use to many extroverted verbs. If you helped and supported, great, don't use the verbs conducted or led.

2. Practice your interviewing skills with a jerky friend, one who will want to make you cry. Don't get mad at your friend. It will toughen up your skills.

3. Make sure your LinkedIn photo is a human picture, not your closest version of Kim Kardashian or Angelina Jolie.

4. Add real hobbies and interests to your resume. Your interviewer will be more engaged with a person who shares their interests. We want to work with people we like.

5. Even though the resume is about you, the interview is about the employer. Don't focus on yourself, focus on them. You are selling your services for payment. The resume is letting them know what they might be able to buy to HELP them, they will help you by paying you. If you need attention, call your therapist or your mother. (So long as she is someone who isn't super narcissistic. If she is, don't call her. You will be talking about her issues in 10 minutes.)

6. Surprise them in the interview with something that is not on your resume. Be intriguing. Don't give it all away on the first date, if you know what I mean. 

7. If they are not interested after the first interview and don't respond right away, or give you buying signs in the interview, move on. There are other jobs out there.

Everything in the digital world can conceal the truth. But when I see you and meet you, I know who you are. There is no way around it. And success in this stage is achieving a second interview.

Stay tuned on how to get to the third interview and the offer stage. But for now, leave the career filters for someone else. You are the real deal!

Coach E
Eric Horwitz.jpg

Eric Horwitz '90CC leads the Columbia Career Coaches Network.

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