Is an inflated resume worth the risk?
What is the difference between an honest resume and deceptive self marketing?
A resume is expected to showcase a candidate’s strengths and minimize weaknesses. Recruiters and hiring managers expect a certain degree of self-promotion. It’s puzzling why anyone would make up his or her job history, especially when people can easily check references on Social Media or Google search.
Truth be told, it happens more frequently than recruiters care to admit. Reasons vary greatly, from an applicant trying to cover up an employment gap or simply not having the required education or skills that a job requires. Whatever the reason distorting facts on a resume is unethical and can destroy your career.
When recruiters suspect dubious claims on a resume, they nail the candidate with specific and sometimes embarrassing questions during the interview. Hiring Managers can’t check everything; however most will verify previous employment before starting the on boarding process with new workers. After the hiring process, the checking process may continue. No job seeker wants to be in the unhappy position of explaining resume errors or defending misrepresentation after they have been hired. Avoiding common problems can keep you off the hot seat.
While there’s no limit to what candidates can lie about on their resumes, here are a few of the common mistruths we have seen.
Stretching the dates of employment. We keep being told that working anywhere less than a year looks bad so job seekers extend dates or drop the months to hide unimpressive employment. Some candidates extend the dates of employment to hide unemployment or illness. Rather than admitting to the fact and explaining the circumstances some people simply exaggerate their timelines.
Inflating past accomplishments and skills. There is a difference between enhancing actual skills and accomplishments and flat out lying. If you didn’t do it, or you don’t know how to use it, don’t list it on your resume.
Enhancing titles and responsibilities. Wishing to elevate their status, some applicants misrepresent their job titles. This is easy enough to confirm with a call to the past employer, but many HR managers don’t always check every candidate. Even when the description seems accurate, it’s unethical to list any title not officially granted.
Omitting past employment. This is a gray area. Technically you’re not lying, but there’s probably a reason you removed your last job from your resume. Maybe you got fired and burned major bridges. Again try honesty.
Unexplained gaps and periods of “self employment.” Rather than make up a fictional job or cover an employment gap, try truthfulness. If you were taking time off to raise children, go back to school or simply find yourself, no employer will fault you.
The employment process can easily lure you into moral traps. Beware of these specific temptations:
The relative-filth trap: A little fudging on my skills is nothing compared to the “University Degrees” that some people buy on line.
The rationalization trap: I deserve to call myself “Manager” because that’s what I really did.
The self-deception trap: Using the designation from the institute is “OK” because I really intended to finish the program, but I got sick.
Falling into these ethical traps can risk your entire employment future. It doesn’t end once you’ve been hired. You will then need to keep up the charade of each lie you planted for the rest of your career. Who can keep up with all of them?
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