30 Before 30
In honor of my upcoming 30th birthday, I’ve researched countless “things to do before 30” lists. And while there are plenty to choose from, I kept coming back to “Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.”
The List was originally published in Glamour by columnist Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997. Over the next 30 weeks, I’ll be tackling each item on The List and reflecting about it here… publicly (gulp). I hope you enjoy and we can grow together. After all, turning older is a privilege denied to many.
By 30, you should have…
9. A résumé that is not even the slightest bit padded.
Oh, the irony. I’ll celebrate a year with my current company next week, and as with any milestone event, I find myself reflecting. This being a work-iversary (combined with a new calendar year), I’ve given the ol’ résumé and portfolio a makeover — adding new key accomplishments and removing points which are no longer relevant.
So when I saw this week’s topic, I breathed a sigh of relief. Not only because I’ve just been through this process myself, but because I can remember how great it sounded to upsell yourself in your early 20s.
Highlighting leadership experience from your college job is a slippery slope if you haven’t actually led a team. Bullet points with generic phrases can cause a calamity when probed further on interviews. Touting yourself as an “expert” on anything before 25 could raise some eyebrows, unless you’ve got the hours and accolades to back it up.
Now, no one in their right mind would actually lie on their résumé — I’m looking at you, former friend who claims they earned a Bachelor’s degree, but in fact, dropped out with a semester left. But we all (at some point) probably considered the best way to phrase our accomplishments… even when we hadn’t “accomplished” much.
Writers Julie Rottenberg and Elisa Zuritsky provide a perfect example, in a hypothetical manuscript: A job candidate claims to know Facebook. When prompted about how she uses the social platform in her daily role, it turns out she is a Facebook user with lots of friends, and she’s on it daily. This does not a social media manager make.
And while that’s a particularly relevant example for my industry and generation, it’s easy to see how quickly a résumé house of cards can fall apart. The writers explain how everyone’s perspective — from the temp’s to the dog walker’s to the house cleaner’s — is valid. Use whatever experience you do have to sell yourself and what you’ve learned, and why (if applicable) you’re ready to move past it.
It’s tempting in a world of 30 Under 30 lists and constant competition to feel like you haven’t accomplished enough. But setting a standard for yourself — your own life — is what matters. And understanding it’s all a process (and that you will eventually get to where you want to be) can give you the peace of mind to put your résumé out there in an honest and productive way. Ask any recruiter or hiring manager, and the last thing they want is their time wasted by a phony.
After all, “fake it till you make it” only gets one so far… and nobody wants to be known as the person who lied their way into a job.
Side note: If you need résumé help, I’ve lent my services to friends and family in the past. I don’t claim to be an expert, but am happy to edit or help rebuild your résumé from scratch for a nominal fee. Get more info here.