Questions for a Language Ninja: How Do I Give My Résumé Some Undeserved Pizzazz?

The weather is warm, the sky is the color of a bottle of Bombay Sapphire, and The Language Ninja is taking a break from her poolside Mango Colada Cooler to address some pressing language issues. She will then take a well-deserved nap. Let’s get cracking!

Q: I’m currently looking for a new job, but I’m struggling to convey the magnitude of my contributions to my current employer on my résumé. Technically, I work at the reception desk, but I’m considering optimizing my job title to something along the lines of “Chief Facilitating Officer of Lasting Impressions.” Thoughts?

A: As a globally recognized Locution Alignment Engineer, The Language Ninja is uniquely qualified to assist you in your artful curricula vitae subterfuge. However, she suggests that you limit your creative interpretation of your current and desired job titles. Hiring managers – persnickety, shortsighted, and dull though they may be – prefer it when applicants restrict their professional descriptors to positions that actually exist. For example:

  • Yes: Customer Care Representative
  • No: Senior Managing Director of Vending Machine Location
  • Yes: Administrative Support Clerk
  • No: Lobby Navigation Executive
  • Yes: Front Office Coordinator
  • No: Front Office Sherpa

If you insist upon incorporating your suggested job title somewhere into your résumé, The Ninja suggests working a modified version of it into your professional summary: “Facilitates positive lasting impressions through consistent execution of value-added greeting strategies, including, but not limited to, pointing to the commercial Keurig coffee brewer while smiling. This kind of out-of-the-box thinking ultimately led to official recognition by senior executives in the form of a $15 Applebee’s gift card.”

Under no circumstances would The Language Ninja directly advocate lying on a résumé; she will always maintain plausible deniability. Never invent easily disprovable facts, qualifications, and experience – merely hint at the possession of valuable skills you may or may not truly have. If you were once in the building where something impressive was occurring, say: “Participated in a work group that determined the formula for mass-energy equivalence, thereby uncovering the nuances of nuclear fission reactions. Also did light filing.”

If you were to research the proper way to format a résumé (which The Ninja is certain you have), you would notice that there are numerous, conflicting philosophies regarding the creation of the ideal résumé. “Never include a career objective summary!” “Always include a career objective summary!” “Keep the wording concise and easy to read!” “Pack your résumé so full of words it looks like two Terms and Conditions pages mating!” “Add a photo!” “Only add a photo if you want to ensure the hiring manager uses your résumé as toilet paper!” etc.

So, if you’ve learned nothing from The Ninja’s above response (and that may very well be the case), at least know this: inventing a job title that literally no one else uses will not enhance your status. It might, however, lead to your résumé being posted on a snarky BuzzFeed list.

Holly Troupe is a professional web content writer and an amateur everything else. She spends her days writing, eating, and looking for ways to incorporate the term “perfidy” into the urban vernacular.