As the year winds down, the pressure from parents and from yourself comes to apply for summer internships. And around this time, we start updating our resume to add all the things we did this year, and get rid of the items from high school. And for some, there comes that time when you look at your resume, and it’s only about ¾ of a page, definitely not long enough, and you’re struggling to think of things to add. Of course my thought process during that time was, “Hey, remember CaneFest? I’m pretty sure I signed my name up to about 4 clubs email list… Can’t I just put those down?” When you’re desperate for just a few more things to put on your resume (you only need 3 more lines!), it’s easy to think that it isn’t a big deal to maybe fib just a tiny bit and put down a club that you only attended one meeting for before class work got all consuming. Or put that you have working knowledge of Spanish, when the last Spanish class you took was in the 8th grade, and the only phrase you remember is, “Donde esta mi pantalones!”?
The simple fact of the matter is this: any small lie is still a lie. On a resume, that little lie can get you in a lot of trouble. On the legal side, putting something that isn’t necessarily true is a simple matter of fraudulent information and misrepresentation which could have serious repercussion. Now, you’re most likely thinking about how a company would be able to prove that you were not, in fact, a member of the Scuba Club? Why would they really ask you, or even care if you mentioned that you were proficient in Microsoft Excel, and actually had only made one pie chart at a summer job once? If you don’t really care about the legal aspect (I’m required to say this: YOU SHOULD!), think about the awkward situations it could get you in. Imagine your interviewer, before being an HR recruiter, was an avid scuba diver and wants to talk about your favorite dives with you, but you only went to the info session before you decided it was too expensive. You’re left with nothing to say except, “Yeah… fish are pretty.” Or even worse, you do get the job, and then when you get there, they say to you, “Hey we need you to make 30 pie charts written in all Spanish because we have a big presentation with the CEO of our Spain branch.” How awkward is it going to be when you have to tell them that you don’t know how to do either of those things, even though on your resume it says that you have conversational knowledge of Spanish, and are an expert at all things Microsoft Office?
It might seem like it isn’t a big deal to fib a little bit on your resume, but doing that can get you into some awkward situations. If an employer catches you in a lie, it will not only ruin their impression of you, but also force them to question everything else on your resume, and question everything that you say, now believing you to be a liar. It’s so tempting to try to beef up your resume with little things that don’t seem important to try to make yourself seem a little bit more impressive, but you simply cannot risk it. My rule of thumb for clubs on a resume is asking myself if asked about the club, would I be able to say at least 3 sentences about what I did there and have them be true. When it comes to languages and computer skills you just need the right word. Basic knowledge, working knowledge, proficient in, advanced knowledge, conversational, fluent, etc. The most important thing is to be properly representing your abilities, but not selling yourself short. The easiest thing to do, is if you have to question whether or not you should put something on your resume, don’t. If you aren’t sure, then chances are it shouldn’t be there. If you still need ideas on how to make your resume longer, you can look at our resume guide, pages 3 and 4, or come in for walk-in advising, Mon-Thurs 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.