Why you shouldn't inflate your resume

Many people inflate their resumes when they apply for a job. When I’m on the hiring side of the equasion, I tend to frown upon such practices: though I usually don’t care much about references, I do check the outliers. But what I check more is expertise – and that’s something I can’t stand inflation on.

Overly inflated resumes are usually very easy to spot: some-one who just finished university is hardly ever an expert in anything, especially if they’ve opted to reduce the number of internships or have taken internships in companies that basically use interns for the heavy lifting(read: boring work) and routine maintenance (read: debugging legacy spaghetti code) that you don’t want to spend your valuable programmer time on. Yet, most of them seem to think they know everything about everything, especially if they had high grades.

Some psychologists say that you can become good at something if, and only if, you do it for 10,000 hours or more. That usually takes a least five to ten years, at an average of 1,000 to 2,000 hours a year. You might be able to squeeze an extra 1,000 hours out of a year, but at some point, the gained equity is no longer worth the effort. Bref, it takes a certain amount of time to become an expert – but then, you don’t always need an expert: sometimes you need some-one you can train, or some-one who can just to some of the heavy lifting for you, such as writing unit tests or doing routine maintenance.

Some resumes are inflated in quite a different way, though: adding rsponsibilities and titles on jobs where the actual work was a lot less interesting than the description might have the reader expect. In french, titles have a tendency to over-state the importance of a person anyway. In that sense I am guilty as charged: I was once Directeur des Systèmes d’Information) in a small french company. Though that would translate literally to Director of Information Systems which would imply that I was on the board of directors, the correct translation is Network Administrator and as such, I was not on the board of directors. In the english version of my resume, I use the proper english term – in the french version, I use the title that was given me.

If you want, you can go through my resume (in english or in french) line by line. Every word of it is true and none of it is inflated. In the english version, I use star ratings where in the french version I use words to denote my aptitude in different things related to IT and Software. You’ll note that there aren’t that many five-star ratings in there.

About rlc

Software Analyst in embedded systems and C++, C and VHDL developer, I specialize in security, communications protocols and time synchronization, and am interested in concurrency, generic meta-programming and functional programming and their practical applications. I take a pragmatic approach to project management, focusing on the management of risk and scope. I have over two decades of experience as a software professional and a background in science.
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One Response to Why you shouldn't inflate your resume

  1. Hello Ronald,

    J’ai beaucoup travaillé dans le monde de la musique (et des arts en général) et ce que du dis au sujet des c.v. (resume) et des notes biographiques (pour des artistes, par exemple) est vrai et facile à  constater : bien des candidats “gonflent” leur c.v. pour paraître plus compétents qu’ils ne le sont en réalité. S’ils sont engagés par un comité qui n’a pas dépisté leurs faiblesses, ils prouvent rapidement leur incompétence. Il est ausi trés intéressant de comparer les notices rédigées en anglais et en fran&csedil;ais, et de voir les termes impropres utilisés dans des traductions.

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