Purveyor of High-Quality Verbiage

Lisa Vaas is a journalist who analyzes technology and job-hunting strategies.

Archive for August 2009

To Tell the Truth: The Rules of Resume Fibbing

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Good lord, the lies people tell on their resumes will blow your mind! A slew of hiring professionals were kind enough to share some hair-raising stories for the latest feature package I did for TheLadders.

One of my favorites: The people who claim fluency in a language and then don’t get past “Hola” when the recruiter commences the interview in that language. Hahaha! NAILED!!

That’s just one of many stories I collected for this great package. If you’re thinking of fudging something on your resume, if your current resume claims you got that M.A. when you’re actually 8 credits short, if you’re trying to cover up a gap in your work history when you were out of work or back in school or incarcerated or whatever, you’ll want to read this article to learn the facts regarding what potential employers do to check you out.

Below are the first few paragraphs; click here for the full article, and please, let me know how your job hunts are going!

To Tell the Truth: Resume Rules
Recruiters and resume experts draw a firm line between putting your best foot forward and lying on your resume.
By Lisa Vaas

The woman was mousy and small — just 5 feet tall and 105 pounds. She wanted to be hired full time at the Ohio-based manufacturing facility where she was temping, and asked what she had to do to make that happen.

Well, you have to fill out an application and go through an interview, and then we’ll do a background check, the vice president of human resources, Matthew Rosen, told her.

I’ll have a tough time with the background check, said the woman.

That was an understatement. The background check revealed a criminal record and hard time in a penitentiary. When Rosen asked the woman about it, she said her husband had beaten her, repeatedly. So she shot him — a crime for which she spent seven years behind bars.

Rosen’s jaw hit the floor. And yet, Rosen recommended hiring her.

It “turned out beautifully,” Rosen said. The woman is still working at the plant today. She’s one of the organization’s best workers, grateful just to have been given a chance.

It’s an extreme case. Many people have issues they’d rather sweep under the carpet than reveal on a resume — from work-history gaps to degrees not received to an age that’s either too ripe or too raw to admit. But all resume issues have one thing in common: Getting caught in a lie about them can obliterate your chances of getting hired.

“It’s going to be discovered. If it gets discovered, or when, there will be no chance you’ll get that job,” said Rosen, who is now human resources director for Schiller International University in Largo, Fla. “You have a better chance explaining it — much better. If they run a background check, then it will get discovered, and then you’ve lied to these people. Who’ll hire someone who’s lied to them? I’m going to hire someone who did something and went to a penitentiary. I’ll never hire someone who’s lied to me.”

But while it’s easy to preach truthfulness, resumes are marketing documents that present candidates in the best light. It begs the question: What can you successfully gloss over, and how do you do it without turning yourself into a liar? When is it OK to polish, and when does an embellishment become a forgery?

In this package, TheLadders draws the line. Certified professional resume writers, job seekers, corporate recruiters and career coaches speak out to delineate the difference between an appropriate omission and a deliberate disguise. They break down the resume into sections and define what shows what and how you can tweak your resume to make it shine and still stay within the bounds of honesty. The result is a clear topography of this slippery slope for all those job seekers who’ve found themselves questioning the distinction between exaggeration and fabrication.

Click here to read the full story.