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I have recently accepted a written job offer which is contingent on both background and reference checks. I was rather inexperienced with the entire job application process and resume writing at that time, and took some random resume advice for new graduates. The advice was that it was okay to leave out the word 'intern' and that I can change my job title in my resume to reflect my actual duties, and I thought that 'Software Engineer' was a better fit. My actual title is 'Web Developer Intern'.

I hope that the recruiter thought of my employment as an internship because the dates of my employment overlap with my dates of schooling. The role I applied to is also for new graduates with little to no experience, so I hope that my inaccurate job title is not a huge issue. The company has not requested any checks yet, but I want to be honest with my recruiter and tell her proactively about my mistake, but from reading elsewhere it's better if I don't disclose it until I am questioned. What should I do to minimize the risk in my situation?

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  • @StephanBranczyk Thanks for the video! It really was eye opening for me. And it's not my real name. Dec 25 '20 at 11:00
  • @JoeStrazzere I definitely will. Not worth getting an offer possibly rescinded for something like this. Dec 25 '20 at 12:43
  • I am sure that there are rare horror stories of offers rescinded for minor transgressions, but really, a few-months duration position during your degree program is going to be seen as an internship regardless of whether you put "intern" on the title. That said, it's best to make your resume as correct as possible and include the organization-specific job title verbatim as they have it in their records.
    – teego1967
    Dec 25 '20 at 15:55
  • Some of my internships never had "intern' as part of the job title. It was just "Software Engineer." They have always been recognized as internships. Dec 25 '20 at 18:22
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I'd be more concerned whether "software engineer" actually reflected your duties as an intern, and whether the internship was paid.

Software has always been an area where relatively young hobbyists can work proficiently. If it was a paid position and your duties (or results) were of some substance by the end, then I don't think there's too much to worry about.

Let them find out that it was an internship, and shrug if they complain. At the end of the day a paid internship is a work position entirely commensurate with your age and student status. I don't think presenting it as a so-called proper job can be described as a "mistake".

But since you seem to think that you have made a mistake, then if your description of the job was a vast exaggeration of your skills and actual duties, or perhaps worse if as well as an exaggeration it also wasn't paid, then it may be best to reach out and confirm that their understanding of the role matches yours.

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but I want to be honest with my recruiter and tell her proactively about my mistake,

Yes

but from reading elsewhere it's better if I don't disclose it until I am questioned.

No. No. No

What should I do to minimize the risk in my situation?

Proactively communicate about your mistake as soon as is practical. Phone call would be best, but e-mail will do if a call isn't feasible.

The key here is that you need to stay in control of the story so it can be viewed as a "mistake" and not as "intentionally misleading" or "lying". Frankly, what you did was NOT very smart. In all likelihood it makes little difference if your job title is dev intern or SW developer. The bigger point here is much more serious: are you a trustworthy person and can be you relied upon presenting data and facts accurately.

If I would find out after fact that you lied on your resume, I would a) fire you on the spot, b) have you blacklisted in any org I work for and c) spread the word in my network. Mistakes are perfectly ok and happen all the time. Lying is an absolute show stopper for me and many other managers as well.

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  • I certainly wouldn't want to be employed by you. While your a) may be acceptable, depending on if they really lied (which they didn't IMO), b) and especially c) would be reasons to fire you if I were your boss.
    – danzel
    Dec 26 '20 at 0:36
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Now

(note: at the time of writing this its Christmas day but I will address holidays and weekends as well)

Any other day of the year I would have sent an email as soon as I noticed. followed by a 9am call on the next working day.

The sooner a mistake can be fixed the better.

If its a non work day (including holidays. Merry Christmas by the way) I wouldn't bother with the email. Just that 9am call.

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