About a month ago, Mrs. JMR applied* for a new job, one for which she was eminently qualified. The challenge came in demonstrating just how qualified she was. It had been a while since she had actively looked for a job, so it had been a while since she had updated her resume. Since the new job is of a different nature than most of her recent jobs, she decided to write a new resume. Like most of the world, she hates writing her resume, so she asked me to go over it before she sent it in.
This brought up an issue that was raised at the Q&A panel I attended a couple of months ago. I felt Mrs. JMR was not fully describing her role in a previous job. She didn't want to egregiously pad her resume. So, the question is, when describing your past experience, at what point does highlighting your qualifications become bragging and at what point does it all become lying?
The question centred around her experience as an assistant dance teacher (the new job is Youth Worker, so this experience was applicable). She was hesitant to claim to have taught dance, because she wasn't the teacher. I felt that she should say she taught dance, because from what she described, she was instructing the kids on how to dance... even if she wasn't necessarily doing the choreography or designing the lesson plan.
Similarly, when I began as a technical recruiter, I was assisting my boss. I was learning the trade and getting accustomed to the processes and methods of recruiting. Legitimately, I could say that I was recruiting. Had I been looking for a job at the time, I should have made clear that I was quite junior, but there would have been no need to downgrade my experience.
Still, one must be careful when writing a resume or answering questions in an interview. Although you should take ownership of all the tasks that you did in a previous job, and should make sure to present the facts in the best possible light, ensuring they support your objective, you do not want to get caught lying. Many hiring managers are subject manager experts, or will have SMEs sit in on an interview. They will be able to catch your embellishments, and if they do, that'll probably be it for your candidacy... even if you were actually qualified.
It can be quite a difficult game, job searching. Excessive modesty will limit your opportunities. Dishonesty will do much the same.
*Yes, I have put off completing this post for so long that she now has the job and I have had to change all the grammar to the past tense.