Lying on Your Resume

I’ve always liked experiments, so I decided to play around with my resume to test my theories since I’ve been living in Florida. These are the assumptions:

  1. Most people have high school diplomas; a college degree is rare.
  2. Local colleges/universities are more highly regarded than those outside the state.
  3. Exact word matches are important.
  4. Less is more.

Before I arrived here, a friend of mine said she would pass along my resume to her sister who was going to share it with some law firms. I put all my degrees on there and all my work experience highlighting the legal internship I did in high school and the time spent working on law-related issues for the federal government. She was impressed. Honestly, I didn’t care; I was just trying to get a job in a field that I enjoyed in a place where I thought I would be happy. I heard nothing back. The sister went to a law school I have never heard of and is happily working as a lawyer. I feel like I should’ve gone to a no-name school to make people more comfortable. Oh, and then my cousin called me intimidating.

I have not been the “smartest” (grades, analytical skills) person in the class since elementary school. I have just been trying to do what I am interested in and obtain the skills necessary to work in fields of interest. I entered college as a wide-eyed dreamer, and now I am a bitter realist. In college I really wanted to work for the CIA so I could support my country, but they passed on me because of the propensity to compromise and be honest. Ironically, now I have recognized the value of lying, er, omitting the truth.

So, I have an online presence that will lead you directly to me, unless… I use the fact that my name is quite common, and hide myself in plain sight by removing my middle initial, in addition to all the other locks on my accounts preventing people from finding me unless I want them to. (how’s that for clandestine, CIA). The heading of this blog is misleading. I don’t lie, I just don’t tell the whole truth. Unlike most people on the internet who talk about embellishing their resumes, I do the exact opposite: downplay all of my experiences and accomplishments. Lo and behold here in the sunny state of Florida, I have gotten more responses by being less ambitious and driven. (I guess I was not smart enough to understand why the friends I knew here had left…)

So…

  1. Remove middle initial so I cannot be found online
  2. Remove graduate degree
  3. Add local school that I attended briefly to establish a common bond; it should not be on all my resumes because I do not want to appear overqualified or smart with the pursuit of a graduate degree
  4. Think minimalist: one undergraduate institution, one degree, no certificates; the resume should not show a desire to be proactive or do things differently (i.e. language certificates and time spent abroad are irrelevant)
  5. Resume should be polished, but not too much; it should not stand out and be overly impressive; stick to one bullet point
  6. Exaggerate administrative roles (I am a female, so that is more acceptable, and people will be more comfortable); anything that says “analyst” should be “assistant”, to better connect to administrative assistant
  7. Try to keep the resume to one page
  8. Cover letter should be short and sweet; nothing too detailed
  9. References should be good friends and not the standard professional references, because the real references should not be wasted

I received three callbacks with my revised Florida resume.

I interviewed for a Hotel Manager role at a high-end hotel hoping to snag a rich husband like my friend. (I mean, I really was not going to strip myself of everything I was proud of to work at a no-name motel.) I made the mistake of not rehearsing well enough before to help me to not over share and stick to the script. For this one, I also listed the college and not the university so that I could actually get the interview, and then hoped that they were not too familiar with Google… I was asked what luxury meant and I mentioned quality and some other related things including my own travel. I had thought that that did not go to well and I should have said more superficial, Miami-sounding things, but in retrospect, I think it went ok. I really needed to work on my lines though.

I interviewed for an Administrative Assistant role as well, and had a second interview today, but I don’t think it’s going to work out. I was surprised the second interview was even scheduled. I put my college’s more common name on this resume, but sticked to one degree and added the Florida school. Thankfully I was not asked about career aspirations. I was asked about my administrative assistant experience, which I do have, but it is minimal, and the first interview admitted that it’s not overly complicated, but she wanted to know what experience I had in it. Then she asked for my preferred salary, which was $15K more than what she was hoping for. That’s why I thought that that was the end of the conversation. Then she had the nerve to tell me that the place I was temping at was paying me $20.25, hinting that I should lower my expectations. As I mentioned before, I was experimenting, and I was hoping to use this company as leverage as well. (Again, more CIA tactics, lol)

So this is the kicker. First I was insulted, but then I thought maybe I did a good job constructing an average resume. Unfortunately, that also means I might actually have to consider lying in the future. The first interviewer for the admin role emailed to schedule an interview with the HR person. It was scheduled for 11. I did not hear from the second interviewer until I followed up with the first interviewer. The second interviewer struggled a lot with her English and the phone. They wanted Spanish and Portuguese skills for this role, so we could’ve switched languages, but again I had to make sure that I did not intimidate in any way and display any sort of proactivity. We finally spoke and she said I was a bit “junior” for the role because they’re looking for someone who could grow into an office manager, contracts administrator, or HR position. Whaaaat!? Welcome to Florida. I had interviewed for contract admin roles, at least now I know where they stand in the scheme of things.

I thought maybe she didn’t understand where I went to school. So I said, I do not know if you are too familiar with my school or where I worked. She recognized the school. I thought then maybe she was trying to be mean and use this as an opportunity to get back at those who went to top tier schools. She said the same thing that the other place I worked at said about my being under qualified for fast-paced and demanding environments. So, that being said I am understanding that this place is chaotic and unorganized, so now, I really don’t want to work there, but then I need the money, and have to make sure to be the one to quit first before anything else goes down. In the beginning she was more interested in my Florida school and not the undergrad. Explains a lot. I also do not want to work with people who take themselves too seriously to their point of stupidity, like this lady… I called the first interviewer back to say that I was confused about the position because the second interviewer said I was under qualified… When I mentioned where I worked, I made the mistake of going with the full name and not the abbreviation, which most non-industry people do not recognize. I was poking holes in my own script. She also started asking if I had a LinkedIn profile because there were a lot of people with my name… I tried to avoid giving her my middle initial, but I had too, and then figured with that, I would not get called back. She said she had another call that she had to attend to so she would email me about talking again. (I’m not holding my breath.)

I had another interview earlier today as a Sales Associate. It was supposed to be part-time, but the person arranging it was never really listening. And then now, full-time would actually be better. She sent me the address to the mall (who interviews at the mall when they don’t have a space there???) where I was to be interviewing and she got the name wrong. She also kept sending me the wrong confirmation times, and when I followed up with a call, she read through the exact same script as the initial call. (If she can get hired, why must I jump through hoops for an administrative position???) But, then again, I arrived late for the 9am interview, but the guy interviewing me does not know that because he wasn’t there. The organizer was supposed to move the times back an hour… He apologized for the unprofessionalism, but I mean it’s Florida, so my expectations are slowly lowering, and then I was late too, so I might be right where I belong… (If I got over my fear of stripping, I would be much better off, but I digress…) All I have to do now is pass a background check and drug test and I’ll be at work on Saturday. I’m not too concerned with passing the background check with my “alternate” resume, because the dates line up and I did not embellish. (Who would dismiss someone for dumbing down their resume???) The pay makes me wish I would’ve dropped out of high school. I am trying to make it about the money now, but if it was always about the money, I could have worked retail in between college and then been store manager once I graduated and be in a much better position than I am now, but I decided to be different. So, I also substitute teach, which requires a MA. So if I take the sales job, I would have to give up substitute teaching, which pays more per day when I get it and actually would not trash my resume. I do have this research intern thing I am doing, but it is so boring and confusing. The full-time sales role has benefits though, but I’ll probably have to pay a lot out of pocket since I am not corporate. Then I will also have to quit before they fire me for not meeting the quota. I hate sales. I actively try to discourage sales people from approaching me because I will not buy what I don’t want. I mean, I do not even enjoy browsing at the mall.

So that was the experiment. I think it proved me right, which makes me know longer regret going to UMiami, but does make me regret ever coming here in the first place, although it was only because I intended to go to Florida that I took the short-term jobs in DC and was able to put an economics degree on my resume. I regret coming here. The Florida chapter is closed, but I regret coming here and would strongly advise any and everyone against moving to Florida unless that have a job lined up in tourism or real estate.

I also cried today and thought about killing myself, but unfortunately, that is a normal day. If I did not have family to mourn me, a life insurance policy that would not pay out, and a fear of hell, I would probably be dead. I can probably eliminate the fear of hell though because seeing as my life is crumbling before my very eyes, and I have to hide the truth to get ahead, would my suicide really be my fault?

With all my debt its pointless now to try and work for the CIA despite the progress that I have made in my ability to manipulate words and people for personal gain. They would fear me becoming a double agent… I will leave it at that…

College and Post-College Careers 101 – A Letter to my Younger Self

First off let me say, that when I took up drinking as my hobby, I had one of the worst hangovers that I’ve ever had. I let go of the hard drinking for now, and just have a glass when I’m feeling really depressed. I was saving the bottle for a happy occasion, but as I feel myself getting slower mentally and my birthday is approaching, the hope for the happy occasion has long since subsided.

To be more engaged with others when I was in a happier place when I moved back in with my parents, I volunteered to interview high school seniors as a part of my college’s alumni association. Then I was excited for the students and really wanted to encourage them on their pursuits. Now I feel like I have nothing to offer. I have failed. How am I supposed to sit across from them and explain how invaluable a college degree is, the experience, blah, blah, blah? I can’t, but I can offer the truth. I can bring them back to reality and tell them what I wish I would’ve heard at their age:

1. Where you go to college and what you study matters.
People say it doesn’t matter in the long-run, but they completely skip over the fact that a recent graduate needs to first enter the workforce before they can even think about the long-run, not to mention the HUGE amount of debt everyone but the extremely wealthy and the extremely poor will amass. (Not $30K but more like $100K, but in my case $300K when you add graduate school.)

First, where you go to college…

If you want to be able to work in any state in the United States, you’ll need to go to a school that’s respected and known in every state in the United States. You will need to look at the university rankings on USNews, Forbes, etc. This becomes especially important if you want to work on Wall Street or in Consulting, or at any other well-known financial or business institution. If that is your goal, you’ll also want to stay away from getting a graduate degree from any school whose undergraduate program is not in the top 10, with some wiggle room given for the top 20, or top state schools since there is  bitterness towards people who go to top 10 schools and more recognition that the cost of college is ridiculous when compared to the returns. That will bring down your resume and remove opportunities that you could have probably had with just your undergraduate degree.

On the other hand, building off of the bitterness towards the top 10 schools, if you go to a top 10 school do not venture out of the major metropolitan areas. Outside of the major hubs, there is a preference for local candidates from community colleges or local state schools. This preference is very strong in places like Florida which is generally seen to have a weak educational system at all levels, and neither it’s state schools or private universities are highly ranked with the U.S. (In Latin America people will say MIT and FIU in the same sentence, but then people from MIT have no idea when an FIU is, but in Latin America, you get extra points just for attending school in the US.) So if you know you want to live in Florida, go to college in Florida. You must be sure you want to stay in Florida, because your chances of leaving Florida are slim. You can compare that to degrees from state schools in California, North Carolina, or Texas, which have more national regard.

Second, what you study…

Do not major in a qualitative area. People stay study what you enjoy, and follow your dreams. If your dream involves majoring in a qualitative area, go to whatever school you want, as long as you don’t have to take out any loans. The other option is going to law school, but you MUST go to law school. Do not do what I did and delay law school for a lackluster MA degree. If your focus is on law school, you’ll need to get into a top 25 school if you want to eventually work as a lawyer. You can go to a school not in the top 25, but you should NOT take out any loans to do so, because that would be a waste of money. Taking out loans for law school if you get into the top 25 is a safer bet. Yes, it is betting.

The place for your dreams in college, are the electives, minor courses, and you extracurricular activities. You also should not choose an “easy” major so you can get a good GPA. Your GPA matters, yes, but so does your major, not the courses, but your major.

So, major in a quantitative field, especially if you are a minority. Also, learn another language, but only one, so that people do not think you want to be a teacher or a translator. No one likes an overachiever. Top 10 schools generally do not offer a major in business, so if you are looking for national mobility, consider these majors: computer science, economics, engineering, biology, chemistry, physics, math, finance, or statistics. You can double major if you want, but having a double major alone is not something to brag about. Do not worry about studying abroad, nobody cares. If your foolish like me and want to live in south Florida or such similar places know for its low intellectual capital thinking that it might not be all that bad, look at the market. The locals are only going to understand what the locals know. Here, the market is tourism, real estate, business, and sales. Majoring in business, hospitality, real estate, or finance is your only option. Absolutely do NOT come to Florida or similar places with a non-standard degree, meaning, at my college, you could create your own degree. That’s not useful for Florida, as it will not be understood. Stick to the basics and what is easily understood.

2. You cannot make an investment with loans.

Going to college is not an investment in your future, it is a necessary evil and a business transition. A friend’s mother when to MIT and I am pretty sure she did not pay more then $11K for her education. Overall, I believe back then, it was a couple thousand per semester. (That’s an amazing ROI for the baby boomers.) She graduated MIT and her starting salary in an engineering role was $20K. (Notice the specific and clear major leading to the job that had the degree/major in the title.) Her starting salary was higher than the cost of her education. That is not going to happen today. I think MIT is about $50K/year, and the starting salary is probably not above $70K with 70K being generous. Total college tuition will always be higher than your starting salary. Accept it, and move on.

That being said, without a college degree, in most places, you will not even be able to be an administrative assistant. I say most places, because in south Florida, you can have a MA and work for some of the best companies in the country and be under-qualified for the role of administrative assistant. Then, in DC many interns are recent graduate school graduates.

I am not going to say do not take out a loan. (shocking) I have $300K in loans. I applied to 9 schools, and got into 8. None of the schools offered me a scholarship, and so I still got to go with my first choice, which happened to be the best out of the ones that I got into. I could’ve gone to a state school, but then my options would’ve been limited as they are now. You can decide whether you prefer to be debt free, or disengaged and always the smartest person in the room. (There’s a saying that if you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.)

If you take out a loan that is greater than your expected salary, you have no choice but to major in a quantitative field as mentioned above. After all, you are also getting hands-on financial experience. (That’s a joke, no one cares about how you manage your personal finances expect for when there’s something negative in your background check. I mean, I’ve traveled all around the world, but yet I’m somehow not qualified to arrange other people’s travel… I digress…) Also, BY NO MEANS, should you be taking out a loan greater than your expected initial salary to attend a school that is not ranked in the top 50. I thought this went without saying, but from recent experience I guess it doesn’t, your starting salary will vary based on location, industry, degree type, major, and school.

So schools will tell you that college is an investment. Not true. I thought maybe it could be true, because you invest a little bit now for much more later, but if you personally have nothing when you’re 18 and are relying on credit, you’re gambling, not investing. I’ve made investments with cash, from a part of my actual salary, not based on an expected salary that was not guaranteed. Gamblers use credit to roll the dye and see what happens. With college financial aid, you’re using loans to gamble for and with your livelihood. Also consider mortgages and the housing market… With loans you are gambling. Do NOT get caught up in the word investment. Accept that the loan is a gamble, the Department of Education and Sallie Mae are loan sharks, and move on. (I mean, explain why I can still qualify for an educational loan, although I won’t qualify for a personal loan until I am 60 at the earliest??? I wouldn’t want one by then anyways…)

3. GPA might matter, but it depends.

If you want to go to a top-ranked consulting firm, you will need at least a 3.7. Go anywhere but a community college, and get a 3.7 and you will be fine. Overall, you do not want to get below a 3.2. Do not stress over the GPA, but focus on the coursework, as going about it that way will probably help your grades. Grades are about 50 percent what you actual do and 50 percent what your teacher thinks about you. Attending office hours and getting to know your professor goes a long way. Try to be genuine with it, and you might also want to get to know them a little bit more before you start speaking up more frequently in class less they view you as a challenge or a brown-noser.

For graduate school and professional school: the lower your GPA, the better your standardized test scores have to be.

4. Graduate school.

If you go to a top 10 school, do not go to graduate school right away. If you have undergraduate loans, do not go to graduate school unless they pay you. When applying to graduate school, the ranking of the undergraduate institution matters as you consider wether or not you want to attend. The same principles regarding location and major mentioned above apply to graduate school as well. You can use graduate school to relocate and enter a different field. Unless you are a business or prelaw major, only get a graduate-level degree that COMPLEMENTS your undergraduate degree.

If you go to a top 10/20 undergraduate school, your graduate school should be in the same tier otherwise your skills and aptitude will be questioned. If you attended an undergraduate school that was not ranked as high, attend a graduate-level school of a higher rank to increase your options. Especially, now, doing so will make you appear wise, as it will be assumed that you attended a lower ranked undergraduate institution to save money and that is one instance where what you do in your personal life matters for your career. You will also appear to be a hard-worker who persevered despite less opportunity, etc., etc.

 

So, to wrap this up, college is not about you finding yourself and exploring your interests, it’s about being employable. Some people are lucky enough to go to those places that allow them to be universally employable, but if that is not you, you’ll still have to strategize to make sure that you are employable locally. You’ll need to look a college as a business and adjust your mindset. My “friend” called me a “free spirit” because I said I was moving again even though I said I was moving for a specific job. I was offended, because I think that all she hears is that I am traveling to another location, not relocating to work. But, she was probably right. I had dreams like her and was going by my feelings, which led to ruin. She was the smart one who had dreams and married up. Being practical is all there is, and dreams will follow, maybe. That is the status quo. That’s what people understand. Accept it, and move on.