Liar, Liar… pants on fire. Really?
Believe it or not, a lot of people lie on their résumé…either intentionally or accidentally.
How do I know? Well, for one, as a professional résumé writer, I’ve seen these lies. And several recent articles—including from Time/Money magazine and CareerBuilder.com—reveal research that shows how much people lie.
So where, exactly, do people take to fibbing on their most important career asset?
According to CareerBuilder, here are the stats:
Embellished skill set – 57 percent
Embellished responsibilities – 55 percent
Dates of employment – 42 percent
Job title – 34 percent
Academic degree – 33 percent
Companies worked for – 26 percent
Accolades/awards – 18 percent
Let’s break this down, shall we?
Embellished skill sets and responsibilities
It’s one thing to say you have some familiarity with a skill or responsibility (i.e. you’ve done it in the past and maybe not recently), and it’s an entirely different thing when you have no experience at all. Don’t try to claim something you don’t have…you’ll get caught. Every. Single. Time.
Dates of employment
This is a HUGE problem that I think a lot of people fib about and they don’t even know that they are doing it.
Bear with me on this.
If you have worked at a company and if you have held multiple positions there, you cannot list the entire duration of your entire career under the higher-level job. That’s lying.
It is actually better if you break out each position and show dates for each—that’s what the prospective employer will be verifying when they call your current company, and it is actually more beneficial to show career progression than a single job. Career progression screams to a potential employer, “HEY! This company liked me so much they moved me up!” Got it?
Ah, yes, the problem of “uptitling.” Yes, previous employer Uncle Scrooge was stingy on the job title. Obviously, what you were doing far exceeded your title’s description that it seems laughable to put the actual one on your résumé. But beware the temptation of “promoting” yourself. You still have to pass the employment verification process, and if it doesn’t match, you will get hurt.
Solution: Put the actual job title first, then provide the level at which you were actually operating. That way you cover both issues.
Example: Manager (equivalent to Vice President)
If you graduated, put it down. If you took coursework, indicate that it was coursework. If you are in progress, provide an anticipated completion date. But in no way should you try to lead an employer down the primrose path into assuming that by listing a college/university that you graduated when in fact you didn’t. Education is one of the easiest things to verify—and disprove.
Hint: If you were on a team that helped win an award, it is a very good idea to indicate “Winning team, XYZ Award”—don’t try to take all of the glory.
My best advice is that you always have to be honest in your résumé document. Sometimes, honest mistakes happen, but it’s your job to fix them.
The real nugget here is that when you have honesty as your policy when writing a résumé, you will never have to look over your shoulder in fear of being found out—that can be a career-ending move.