When applying for a job or an internship, you want to make your resume look professional and, most of all, impressive, so sometimes you may fudge a few lines to fit the job you’re applying for. Maybe you’re applying for an internship and they want a candidate who knows Microsoft Excel really well and you wrote that as one of your skills (even though you probably haven’t used Excel since your high school computer class). Or maybe they want someone with HTML knowledge and while you may have learned a little bit of it in college, such as how to bold or italicize a word in code, you wrote it as a skill, too.
Everyone tells these little white lies in their resume to give themselves an edge over other applicants. However, these tiny fibs aren’t necessarily a bad thing as long as they are not actually lies. For example, if you’re applying for a position that requires a certain number of years of experience in a particular field, you wouldn’t put on your resume that you have that much experience. Instead, you would list the relevant experience you have for that job, but beef it up a little bit so it sounds as if you know what you’re doing.
Since your competition is going to be telling white lies to make themselves look better, you’re going to need to as well. When it comes to skillfully elaborating on your abilities, make sure to play up your experience in these three ways.
1. Write down skills you can easily learn.
As I mentioned, while you may not know a lot about a certain software program, such as Excel, you probably have the basic knowledge to get your foot in the door with a company. Then, while you work there, you can gain more experience with it, learn more about it and become an Excel pro in no time. People always say you learn better on the job than in a classroom and that’s exactly correct. You can learn a lot of theories in a classroom or from a book, but until you have the opportunity to practice a task in real life, you’ll never be able to fully grasp it.
Now, you shouldn’t lie about a skill if you can’t quickly learn more about it or you don’t have the basic knowledge. A good rule of thumb for this is if you can learn what you need to learn for the job in a night, you can include it in your resume. If you can’t and it’s more complicated and difficult to learn, don’t write it.
2. Spin experience when it’s relevant.
Spinning doesn’t mean lying, but rather digging into what experience you already have and emphasizing its relevance to the position you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying for a job as a freelance writer, but don’t have a degree in journalism or English, you could write about how you wrote articles for your school newspaper, pieces for an online publication or even the newsletter for a club you were in. By doing those jobs, you gained relevant experience, so go ahead and put freelance writing on your resume to stand out.
Or, maybe you’re at a job where you do customer service, but you eventually want to work in marketing or administration. If you want a different job, you can find aspects of your current position that pertain to the job you want. For example, you’re a customer service representative, but you want to eventually go into marketing. See if there is any small marketing skill you can do at your company, such as helping with their social media accounts. If you want your dream career, you have to be able to spin the experience you have into the experience that will land you that job.
3. Only put skills on your resume that describe you, not the job.
Does the position you’re applying for call for someone who is outgoing, personable and motivated? Those are three common qualities employers look for in a potential employee. Maybe you fit two out of those three personality traits, but not the last one. When this happens, you can swap out the personality trait that doesn’t describe you and with one that does. When it comes time to choose the substitute trait, make sure to list one that both describes you and sets you apart from the crowd of applicants.
Maybe you’re not outgoing or all that personable, but you are detail-orientated and have leadership capabilities. Those are still two qualities that employers want to see in an employee, so don’t be shy and use those skills to your advantage. Most people would just put down the skills and personality traits that are straight from the job description, but very few employers want someone who follows the herd.