How to lie on your resume, get away with it and have a great career!

You may have clicked here out of curiosity, or because you just couldn’t believe someone would write an article that would actually give you the tools to ‘get away with it!’, or perhaps you really are interested in my advice. Well I hate to disappoint you!

Honesty is (ALWAYS) the best policy when searching for a job.

I know you’re nervous, anxious, maybe excited, about searching for a new job. You’ve spent a lot of time thinking and writing the best possible resume you can! Innocently enough, you add extra words, implied stronger skills, embellished here and there to make your resume ‘shine’ above the rest.

You’ve applied to great positions, gone on some great interviews, and during those meetings you’ve been challenged with some difficult questions about the level of your skills, your experiences, and your overall knowledge. You find once again, you were not the one chosen for the position.

Statistics say that 30% of people ‘embellish’ their resumes and experiences. During recessionary periods, like the one we’ve just experienced, that number jumps to 44%. We all do it. We all want to impress and showcase our talents. Be careful of exaggeration however, it’s all too easy to self justify a few extra words to pump things up a bit.

Today’s recruitment methods are very detailed. There are far more skills assessments – hard and soft, personal checks (credit, education, criminal, even basic referencing, etc.) and personality reviews than there were even 5 years ago. Plus, most people forget about the internet. Yes, Google has made it possible for all employers to get a glimpse of what you’ve been up to, the good, the bad and the down right ugly! So, is all of that ‘dishonesty’ or embellishment of your resume and overall skills and knowledge worth it? Likely not.

Here are a few examples of areas to watch for when job searching:

I’m the Expert – trust me

Lack of knowledge is the first step down that slippery slope. It’s easy to imply expertise. You have the internet, you’ll simply look it up, cruise through some web sites, learn some keywords and BAMM you’re an expert….besides once you get the job you soon will be an expert…given a little time of course, you can do it. You can do anything. It doesn’t work that way folks, not even a little bit.

I’ve observed, therefore I can

The second step down that slippery slope is experience through observation. You never actually had the experience but you’ve worked with a team member and learned everything they know. It’s kind of like playing a doctor on TV, you may know all the right words and catch phrases, you may even look like the real thing, but given a scalpel, look out! If you haven’t done the work yourself don’t put it on your resume, it won’t make you anymore “job worthy” and don’t be fooled into thinking you can fake it until you make it. You can’t!

Oh that software, I’ve used that before!

List current software skills only! One of the most obvious embellishments is to profess proficiency in every imaginable software application. Just because you’ve touched it, looked at it, used it over 10 years ago at a job you did for 3 days, does not make you skilled enough with that particular software to warrant putting it on your resume. Put down the software you are capable of using today and today only. Unsure of your abilities with a particular piece of software? There are many refresher courses out there, and even the staffing firm you are using may have the option for you to use their tutorial systems to hone up those rusty skills.

Mwwahh! Got away, just like those other schemers…..

One of the biggest trends now, in light of the past few years of financial meltdowns and ponzi schemes, is to do credit checks, primarily for all accounting people in any industry, and those interested in working in banking, finance, investments or any other finance-accounting related business. All positions in the finance-related industry, such as customer service, admin support or even mail room can be subjected to a credit check. If you know your credit is not up to par….don’t put yourself (or the employer) in this situation. Own-up and get it on the table up front, no one enjoys surprises!

I had a little trouble in the past, but that’s all behind me

This is similar to the credit check as above. A lot of companies these days are asking for background criminal checks, in every industry, for every position. Even if you committed a crime, likely a stupid error of judgment caused by age, or more precisely there of, unless pardoned, it will come up and could hinder you in your job search. No matter how upstanding a citizen you are now, this could haunt you. Not much can be done about this one, just be prepared to do some splain’in.

Well I did go to University…

If you went to University, got a degree in Art History, with some dabbling in economics, a B.Comm you do not have! If you went to University but didn’t get a degree, don’t mention that you did. Education verifications are more commonly used these days to ensure that, the business degree you say you have – you actually have. More and more universities also put information about alumna on their websites so it’s easier and easier to verify. Don’t worry too much though, experience always trumps education. If you’re still relying on your education 10 years into your career, you’ve got bigger problems.

There's nothing on the internet about me!


Regardless of these checks, a note of warning to everyone is the dreaded Google search. If you haven’t done it, I would suggest you Google yourself, just to see what comes up. Hopefully nothing, but in the rare chance that there may be something unflattering, not to mention down right incriminating, at least you’re aware, and understand how it will possibly affect you in your job search. Those in your twenties, first step in your job search…remove all drunken party pictures from any and all public web sites. Oh and never add your prospective boss to your Facebook account, or at least not without the appropriate filters activated!

So you see, it is very difficult to cheat, lie or exaggerate your way into your next position – but why would you want to? You need to focus on finding the right position with the right company; using the skills and expertise you have and are comfortable with. Don’t get me wrong, taking on new challenges and stretching to the point of being uncomfortable is important for your career; just make sure it happens in your new job where it counts, not in the interview where it doesn’t!

Hopefully all these little ‘honesty’ tips will help you in landing that next great job!

Follow me @andrea_duggan

Views: 8395

Comment by Christine McKenzie on June 23, 2010 at 5:06pm
Interesting post! As a Recruiter that supports multiple areas in a business, I tend first to ensure to the best of my ability that the candidate is qualified (keywords on resume, comments on blogs, profiles -etc), then I listen closely for leadership capabilities and "organizational fit". If they pass both, I share with the manager who can further determine exactly if the skill set is there, or if it has been fudged a bit. :-)

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