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How Much Can I Bullshit?

Leo asks:

I wanted to ask you about applying for jobs that I’m on the borderline of being qualified for, but not really. Positions asking for a year of experience, familiarity with X Studio Pro or Other Program 2000. I have about three months worth of internship experience in pretty solid companies in LA and I’m trying to make a living in NYC.

What’s your take on applying for those jobs? Should I pretend to know how to use a certain program or say I have more experience than I really do just to get an interview? Should I completely ignore anything that’s not entry level? Or somewhere in between?

If all you have is intern experience, then yes, ignore anything that’s not entry level. Don’t waste their time, or yours. Harsh, but true.

That being said, there is wiggle room. Don’t be afraid to fudge the dates on your resume, to say you have a year or 18 months’ experience. That’s no big deal. Don’t say you’re a ten-year veteran, though.

This basically applies to everything on your resume. Beef it up slightly, to make sure you’re at the top of the pile for any given job. But don’t overdo it. Don’t say you’re production coordinator when you’re really a PA.

As far as knowledge of computer programs– there’s no reason to lie about those. Go out and get them. Most software companies offer free trials of their programs, either for a limited time or a limited number of uses. Or if those aren’t available, there’s always The Pirate Bay.

Camera assistants will go to a camera rental house to see how a new piece of gear works. Electricians do the same with lights. They have to physically go somewhere. There’s no excuse for not knowing how any software works from the comfort of your desk.

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8 Responses

  1. And then on the other side of Kammi’s comment, I know people who have lied about having worked with somebody & then gotten caught out when the interviewer actually knew that person and made a phone call. Don’t be that guy.

  2. Also, Lynda.com is a great resource for learning how to use a huge variety of software. Sure, there’s a subscription cost for subscribers 😉 but that’s far less expensive than taking individual courses and can be a good way to bridge the gap if you need to pick up new skills quickly.

  3. It’s controversial, but two people I know got their first HUGE break by basically lying about a contact they knew at the studio or skills they had, BUT they were able to step up and perform and had a successful career afterwards. So I don’t know; I’m on both sides of the fence on this one. On one hand, your rep is super important, but at the same time, sometimes you have to take a chance, because you don’t know when the opportunity will come again. It’s a calculated risk (and you have to, at some point, take a risk to see a return). I’ve seen a LOT of people get ahead who fudged just a little bit and had a little more confidence and bravado but I won’t necessarily endorse it 🙂

  4. What about if you’ve worked as an admin asst for several years, but they want you to have desk/agency experience? Is it ok to risk it?

  5. I know this is a very general statement to a very complex topic, but piracy hurts our industry. So, I find it odd that you’d recommend Pirate Bay.

    1. They say “fake it ’til you make it.” If you have the several hundred to thousands of dollars to spend on legitimate editions of software suites, there’s nothing stopping you. But if one is looking for $10/hour PA jobs, probably not so much. I suppose one could beg or borrow from a more fortunate friend to avoid “hurting the industry,” but if you have such hooked-up friends, you’re also probably not looking for a $10.hour PA job.

      1. I totally understand the financial motivation for pirating software. i.e. you’re broke. But, where do you draw the line?

        “I really want to watch this movie, play this game, listen to this music, but I’m broke so I’ll just pirate it.”

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