You may be tempted to stretch the truth a bit on your résumé, but don’t do it! During your interview, anything on your résumé is fair game to ask you about, so be prepared and able to back up any claim you make.
Look, I get it. Looking at the average entry level IT job posting (such as IT Support Specialist, Help Desk Tier 1, or Desktop Support Tier 1,) it’s easy to understand why many applicants feel the need to embellish a bit on their résumés.
Take a look at this juicy goodness I found in a few local job postings:
“Experience performing system administration of Windows servers, network devices, and enterprise software.”
I had to double check to make sure I was looking at a help desk posting. Don’t Sys Admins and Network Admins do this?
Here’s a different posting:
“Experience needed: 6 – 10 years’ experience installing operating system required (OS) patches and upgrades.”
The posting’s for a Helpdesk Specialist! We’re talking about an entry level job with low pay in a high cost of living area, and they’re looking for six to ten years’ of experience patching operating systems?
But my favorite (and I don’t mean that in a good way) was actually this excerpt from another posting:
“Active Directory administration, and troubleshooting experience including architecting, implementing and troubleshooting Group Policy.”
Architecting…! Architecting?!? Anyone architecting Active Directory (or anything else at all) is not going to be interested in being a Helpdesk Support Technician.
These are insane requirements for entry level positions.
Still, avoid the temptation to either pad your résumé or stretch the truth. Now, you might be forgiven for thinking that padding will help your résumé stand out. It’s easy to imagine someone buried under a stack of résumés piled up to the ceiling, just trying to quickly narrow them down to a manageable size. Perhaps your four page monster will impress? “Wow,” the reviewer exclaims, “here’s someone who really knows a lot! We’d better interview them!”
If someone non-technical (say, someone in Human Resources) is reviewing your résumé, that may happen.
You will eventually be in front of someone technical. When that happens, will you be able to back up your claims, or will you look like a fraud?
When I’ve looked through résumés, the ones that stand out (positively) are the ones that appear realistic. Like that old Billy Joel song goes, honesty is hard to find! If your only experience is an internship and you have tons of experience listed with complex systems, cloud, infrastructure, and so-on, that won’t impress; it’ll just put your honesty in question.
You should also avoid listing every single thing you know on your résumé. Lots of people use Facebook, Google, and Windows 10. You don’t need to list every day software or services like that. It just comes off looking like fluff. In general, avoid listing email clients you use, social networks, phone apps, or anything you’ve used as an end user. So, listing Outlook is not useful, but if you’ve worked with Exchange (the server behind Outlook,) then do list that.
You don’t have to exaggerate your résumé in order to keep up with your competitors. Keep your résumé honest and it will stand out on that alone!
With each post, I cover a new topic to help you get your start (or keep progressing) in your IT career with the ultimate goal of achieving financial independence. If it’s your first time visiting this blog, start here. Or, see all my posts about interview questions you should definitely be prepared for.