Everyone bends the truth a little sometimes -- is it okay to bend your resume?
To declare in writing that you were the associate vice president of your company for four years when you were really just an assistant running around getting coffee is never acceptable. Nor is claiming that you attended an entirely different school or got a degree from said school even though you were three credits short.
Playing it like that is certainly not the way to get ahead. You've heard of background checks and, um, Facebook, right?
But sometimes it's okay to omit certain information on your resume to make you a more viable candidate. Those ever increasing housing bills and tuition for the kids gotta get paid somehow. Here are a few widely accepted ways you can teeter that line without feeling like you've checked your ethics at the door ...
1. When your resume is too many pages long
You don't need to go on and on about your 15+ years of experience if your resume is starting to hit the dreaded three-page mark. You especially don't need to discuss anything you did in high school, nor should you talk about your job as a cashier at Target when you have 10+ years of more recent and relevant experience.
2. When you're an older worker, and you fear age discrimination
It's illegal, but many companies discriminate candidates based on age. If you list your graduation date, it's easy for them to estimate how old you are. Of course, if you have a face-to-face interview, your boss will be able to guess your age. But at least you'd have a chance to wow the interviewer who may not have even called you back in the first place. If your field is notorious for age discrimination (let's face it, some are), you can also leave off jobs that could indicate how old you are if you have more recent experience that makes up for it.
3. When your skills or passions have no significance to the job you're applying for
So you love dancing and college football. You won a pageant when you were 17. You were the starter of your Division III college soccer team. Your boss most likely won't care about any of these. Career experience will always look far more impressive than anything that's personally important to you. You may think it sets you apart from other candidates, but your qualifications and professional skills will impress your potential manager the most. Unless, of course, you are applying for a dancing instructor job -- then go ahead and talk about all your dancing experience. Bottom line: Tailor your resume to the job's specific qualifications.
4. When you think you can learn a required skill before you start the job
Who doesn't know how to use Word nowadays? And everyone's an "effective communicator" and "team player." If the job requires you to know a program that you're not familiar with, list it on your resume (as long as it isn't too technical and requires years of study to master -- use your best judgment). Ask for help from friends or friendly acquaintances in the field to give you a how-to. Many will be happy to help, and you won't be going into the interview being completely ignorant of the new skill. Then you can pick up everything else you need to know on the job.
5. When your experience speaks volumes more than your grades
The rule of thumb is if your GPA is less than 3.0, don't include it. But if you've been in your field for 5+ years, your experience is far more important than your GPA, so unless you're super-proud of it, you can leave it off entirely.
6. When you'd rather not advertise crappy references
There is no need to take up precious resume space with the contact information of all your references. You don't even need to take up a line that says "references available upon request." All employers should know that you'd give references if you're asked for them.
7. When you're unsure how to present yourself if you just got fired/laid off
There's no requirement that says you have to state why you left any of your jobs on your resume. Use your resume as a stepping stone to getting an interview. It's easier to talk about why you got fired or laid off and have a response prepared in person instead of having words like "fired" or "quit" or "personal reasons" on your resume, which are big red flags for managers and recruiters. Still include an end date and list everything you learned while you were at that job. Then figure out how to address your termination once you get that phone call to set up a meeting.
Have you ever "lied" on your resume? Do you think it's helped you get a job?
Image via David Davies/Flickr