Resume tip #5: Don’t concoct appealing but spurious details or falsely embellish (i.e., lie)

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I would hesitate to suggest that any reader of this blog would lie on purpose, especially on a resume. A lot of the fibbing that takes place, however, is quite subtle, seeming to slip under the writer’s ethical radar. How about these examples:

  • “Rounding up” various numbers one has achieved. Hey, it’s all close enough, right?
  • Giving a cousin’s address in a different state as one’s own so that one can be considered a local hire. Now if one could theoretically be living with the cousin (she needs a roommate after all), then what’s the difference?
  • “Adjusting” one’s education focus in the direction of what the prospective employer is looking for. A minor is basically the same thing as a major, no?
  • Extending ever so slightly the years of experience at a particular company. Who wants gaps in employment, after all?

I think you get the idea. Of course, in our work, we have seen bald-faced, extreme, inexcusable lies too. For example, people saying they were at a company when they were not there at all. In this day and age, in which everything is checkable online or otherwise whether we like it or not, such dissembling tends to get called out fairly quickly.

But what about the micro-fibs? Not to sound preachy, but one shouldn’t lie for the simple reason that it’s wrong. Beyond that, however, there are a couple of reasons why one shouldn’t make false statements on the resume, even if they are not too extreme:

  • The small stuff could be discovered anyway via a background check, transcript, credit report, call to a former employer, etc.
  • One could contradict oneself during interviews or in subsequent communications.
  • The hiring manager could simply feel that something was off (e.g., feel that the resume is too good to be true on the whole, even if each of the parts is believable).

If you have had a good career thus far with significant accomplishments, then it’s optimal to convey those in the most compelling way possible on the resume. If you have not, then all you can do is get a job that’s right for you and keep building. As in all things, honesty is the best policy when writing the resume!

The Key Corporate Services Blog Team