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Q: I’m an intern managing 8 people. Should I lie about my job title on my resume when applying for jobs or try to get my title changed officially?

I got hired as an intern 8 months ago, and continued to be trusted with more and more responsibility. About a month ago, I was given an informal title change and responsibility of leading a small team; I manage 8 people and work directly with leads on sister-teams.

I wasn’t given a pay raise due to budget cuts and recent layoffs, so according to payroll, I am still an intern. The pay doesn’t bother me since it’s a great opportunity to have so early in my career, but when I apply to my next job (which may be soon if projects keep getting cut), I’m worried getting credit for the experience I’ll have.

My company has a rule that prohibits letters of recommendation or contacting direct supervisors. Potential employers are allowed to call HR, who is only able to verify job title, dates of employment, and if they would re-hire you.

If I put “intern,” they will brush off my experience, but if I put anything but that, it will look like I’m lying. I’m not sure what to do. Please help!

That’s ridiculous, and your new informal title needs to be reflected in your company’s record. Talk to your manager and say this: “Now that I’m managing a team and using the teapots manager title, I’d like my records with the company to reflect that. I understand that there’s no budget for raises right now and so I’m not requesting one, but it’s important to me that the company records are correct. How can I get the title change reflected with HR?”

If your manager pushes back and tells you there’s no need for that since everyone working with you is using the new title anyway, say this: “I’m thrilled to be doing the work I’m doing and have no plans of leaving, but with the recent layoffs, I’m not comfortable risking that my work here will stay recorded as an internship if my role is eliminated at some point. It’s important to me to ensure that it’s recorded accurately.”

Also, your company’s rule on references is horrible. Fortunately, in most cases if your manager loves you, they’ll find ways to communicate that to reference-checkers anyway (and once they move on to a new job, all bets are off anyway and they can say whatever they want).

Paying someone intern-level pay to manage eight people is also pretty horrible. I totally get you deciding to do it in exchange for the experience and resume-builder anyway, but it’s still horrible of them … and at a minimum, they need to ensure it really is a resume-builder by formalizing the title. In fact, you could point that out — “I’m being paid intern-level pay for managing eight people, which I’m willing to do because I’m glad for the experience, but for that trade-off to make sense to me, I absolutely need the correct title reflected in our records.”

Q: Should I remove any mention of a controversial issue from my resume?

I’m searching for a position more in line with the field I am pursuing a masters in (public health). I volunteered for an organization that has a political agenda regarding reproductive health options, including abortion. The work that I do with this group is purely awareness-related, and the organization also supports initiatives and health clinics that promote proper prenatal care, safe sex practices, and testing for sexually-transmitted infections, in addition to their attention to abortion access.

Despite the fact that I take pride in being involved in this volunteer program and have learned skills from it, I think I need to try taking it off my resume. The only other problem that I have with taking this off is that it will appear as if my volunteer work screeched to a halt when I graduated from undergrad a little over two years ago, which is a sticking point with me because my job is only slightly related to public health and my volunteer work has always been more relevant experience. What should I do here?

A: Well, I say this as someone who has marijuana policy and animal rights work on my resume, but I think that you’re being more cautious than you need to. Especially in public health, I just don’t think this is going to be a huge sticking point for the majority of employers. (Are the people who are telling you to take it off hiring managers in your field? I’m betting not. I’ve noticed people who aren’t actually hiring tend to think this kind of thing is far more of an issue than it actually is.)

The work experience will help far more than it will hurt you.

These questions are adapted from ones that originally appeared on Ask a Manager. Some questions have been edited for length.

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