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My Favorite Resume Puffs - MovingPackets.net

My Favorite Resume Puffs


Have you ever seen – or perhaps even submitted – a resume (or “CV” for some European friends) where certain parts of it were only there either to ensure that you sorted higher in the computer rankings at an agency (more buzzwords), or in some cases were deliberately misleading?

I’d like to share a few of my favorites from the past, and I’d love to hear your favorite resume puffs as well!

I’ve had this post sitting in draft for a while, and was only reminded of it when Tom Hollingsworth published his blog post “Do They Give Out Numbers for the CCIE Written?”. Tom talks about people using “CCIE Written” on their resumé or LinkedIn profile as if it were a certification, rather than – as it actually is – a pre-qualification for the certification exam. As Tom points out, it’s not that the CCIE written is not an accomplishment in itself, but the way some people use it to market their skills, you do wonder whether they are trying to pull a fast one.

Tom’s commentary acts as a rather nice introduction to this post, which looks at a few instances in resumés where I am pretty positive the idea was to hope you wouldn’t look closely enough to spot the misdirection. Word stuffing is also a common attribute, although I have a little bit more sympathy for that, as it really is a game to get your resumé on the right desk in the first place. Amusingly though, the first few puffs I mention also revolve around the CCIE, so perhaps this really is the most maligned certification out there in resumé terms!

CCIE™ (pending)

This is one of my all time favorite misdirects. Note that it doesn’t tell you whether they have even taken the written exam – it’s just a certification in progress. The “(pending)” is of course in much smaller writing so that it doesn’t stand out when you initially read the document. By the way, my resumé has been updated now to say “CCA (pending)”.

CCIE™ (number not yet assigned)

Yes, really – this genuinely came from a resumé that was sent to me. Of course, you know why the number is not yet assigned? That’s right – because he hadn’t taken (or passed) the lab exam yet…

CCIE™ (written)

Ayup. Make it small enough and nobody will notice that it was just the written exam, not the lab exam.

[CCIE Logo] (written)

Just like the image Tom mocked up in his blog post, I’ve actually seen this at the top of a resumé – the official CCIE logo with the word “written” added in small text underneath it.

CCIE™ (attempted)

At least this person was honest enough to leave the “attempted” in the same font size. Unfortunately it turns out it was actually the written exam that they had attempted (and failed).

Experience with [many] Platforms:

I had one resumé where the candidate claimed to have extensive hands on experience configuring with a long list of Cisco hardware platforms. Nothing wrong with that in theory, so I talked to him and asked for more information about it. It turns out that his role was to rack a device, put on a base config (enough to get a WAN port working), then hand off to an installation team who would remotely connect and put on the actual configurations. So he was telling the truth – he had indeed physically handled all these different devices, and had configured all of them (enough to turn up a WAN interface). Sadly, that was as far as it went. When I asked about the full configurations that  went on the device, he had never actually seen them. I actually felt a little sorry for him at that point, just because it’s hard to grow from where you are without being able to see the goal you want to attain.


What are your favorites?

This is a small and brief sample of what I’ve seen, and I know that you must have seen resumé claims that are as good or better! Please do share some of the great ones in the comments – I’d love to get a little library of resumé puffs going here.

7 Comments on My Favorite Resume Puffs

  1. I love it when there are a ton of routing protocols listed. EIGRP, OSPF.etc. I can understand seeing those and a person having a solid understanding of the protocol , but when I see BGP put on there, you had better be able to answer quite a few questions on it. VERY few times have a seen people who can.

    • My trigger word for a grilling (outside of “CCIE”) is usually “Expert”… 😉

      I have been asked before “And how is your BGP?” My usual answer is along the lines of “Which part of BGP in particular are you interested in?”

  2. I blame HR resume filters, mostly. Actually encourage job seekers to do it (although the small font size and using the CCIE logo are going too far). You cannot land that job without landing the interview first.

    Sadly, when a job opening is listed many times it will say “CCIE or equivalent work experience”, similar to college requirements (MBA or equivalent work experience). The position doesn’t actually require that certification (clearly stated), but HR software looks for it.

    • I don’t have a problem ultimately with playing buzzword bingo – I know that if you don’t have the word “CCIE” in a resume that you probably won’t get returned in a search for a job looking for CCIE or equivalent skills – although it’s possible to take it too far. There’s nothing wrong though with saying openly, “Passed CCIE written exam; waiting to schedule lab” or something like that. There’s no need to actively mislead though.

      • I actually get more annoyed by the protocol bingo game. Especially when they say “expert” in something. Yeah, probably not. Given most jobs are swiss army knife type work, most IT professionals hardly ever get the chance to become an “expert” in something. Perhaps I am applying too high a standard to that word….

        • No, I apply a similar standard to the word “Expert” – to me, it’s quite a claim.

          As to the buzzwords, the danger can be that if it’s on the resume, it’s fair game to ask questions on. Candidate beware! 🙂

  3. Sorry about long comment but CV’s always drives me crazy.
    In CV I always say skills and experiences that I’m proud of and can prove and that I’m sure I can vindicate them. But when I see CVs of other people, I think I’m looser. Sometimes I think they just go to look what hardware and software aso. is in building where they worked and they write all of them. If they served coffee to data center guy, they write “lead few data center projects” or at least “collaboration with data center team”, or “was part of data center specialist team”… pointless

    I remember experience with HR, on first phone interview they state I’m eligible to be “3. level network support”, girl asks me even one technical question like tell me what TCP/IP is (really that is question for 3. level ????, in my mind appears that if student doesn’t answer this question on first CCNA course of CNA (I was teaching)… I throw him thru window… but ok I nicely answer the question… Next day she call me again, that according to others resume, they can offer me just “1. level network support” and asks if I’m interested…. pointless.

    Next job when I go to interview, HR asks me If I know something about routing protocols… of course I’m, I am CCNP. But fortunately there was some technical guy, that tested my and I get that job.

    Tell me why to write that you know some technology like OSPF, if you write you are CCNP, that states exactly what minimum knowledge you have, and if they want to ask about experience, they will. Or should I attach even topologies with my config files, trouble tickets aso. to my resume?

    I hate HR for that common “we are experts for every job in our company” approach. I think HR should notify, that choosing what technical people to employ is not their job, their job should be to find eligible people. Or I’m wrong and that world is not for me.

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