Embellishment is a much nicer word than lying, but that’s what it is when the facts don’t match the words. How far can you stretch the truth? If you’re hired and the company does a fact check, a big fat embellishment can be a firing offense.
It’s estimated that over 30% of applicants embellish their resumes; especially since the unemployment rate it so high and jobs are scarce. The areas of most “embellishments?
- Education – Change of major, graduation date or added content that is not accurate
- Experiences or Job Title – Added projects, experiences or titles not earned
- Job skills – Changing responsibilities to increase your value without having done it
The pressure to embellish is powerful, but being “found out” can be devastating to your career. Most times hiring organizations are highly attuned to the fake resumes. They also have extensive ways to check out statements or questionable facts. Even if you get the job, sometimes job performance doesn’t measure up to the skills that were defined in a resume. This is especially true in the technology and computer world. Fabricating the truth can too easily be uncovered with a few well-chosen questions from a hiring manager.
There is a big difference between a slight embellishment in a sales pitch and a lie on paper. Always look at your “fibbing” from the eyes of the hiring organization and ask the question, “Is this information true or false?” A “sanitary engineer” may sound better than a “garbage collector” until the hiring organization asks you what you actually did and how you did it.
How do you work around tricky situations? Here are some thoughts:
- Figure out and use industry or functional keywords that will help your positioning
- Communicate your special or unique expertise
- Always use numbers where possible to show measureable achievements
- Be specific and credible with actual numbers to demonstrate results on the job
- Use functional descriptors instead of actual titles: Finance Staff vs. Admin/Assistant
- Use time gaps to an advantage: When there is a missing period of time, show that you volunteered in your professional field with a non-profit organization or gotten a professional certification. You’ll still have to offer a good rationale for the missing time.
How you communicate is as important as what you communicate. Make sure your special skills, abilities or experiences shine through. These are the things that make you unique above all others. It could be an unusual sector (franchising), a certificate (Project Management or Six Sigma Green Belt), an organizational specialty (new business development), a functional expertise (forensic accounting), or a technical specialty (unusual applications). Everyone has something that differentiates him or her from everyone else.
The key is to highlight how you are unique rather than fabricate a story you can’t defend.
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