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Resume Writing Challenge: Honesty vs Little White Lies

Landing a job today is more challenging than ever and job seekers try to use any opportunity to get their foot in the interview door. Many choose to beef up their resumes with so called little white lies in order to get a better standing for themselves. Different researches indicate that 40%-50% of job applicants used to include false information on a resume in hopes to look better in the eyes of hiring authorities. It seems that today the tendency to fudge facts on the application continues to gain popularity mostly due to the misleading belief that no one would check and verify resume information. The truth of the matter is that job seekers fear that they will be not good enough as compared to other candidates and as a result, they choose to lie in order to get an edge. This then becomes one of the common resume writing challenges: to be honest or fudge facts on the main marketing document.

Where Do People Lie on Their Resumes?

Today job seekers re-define lies by saying that stretching the truth is not quite a lie. In other words, exaggerating doesn’t equal to making up facts. However, hiring managers wouldn’t agree. The thing is that employers expect candidates to be completely honest and any deviation from the truth spotted is not going to be tolerated by the decision makers. Here are the temptation areas for job seekers where they can stretch the facts:

Young job seeker is puzzled whether to lie or be honest on a resumeDates. It is common for job seekers to cover up their employment gaps by stretching employment dates. Sometimes life is tough and we all can relate to this fact (whether you had to take time to care for a loved one, go to school or relocate, it can all be explained in a cover letter). Obviously, employers may have concerns about gaps on a resume but they will have far greater concerns if they spot a lie realted to the employment dates.

Job titles. It is true that both applicant tracking software and hiring managers pay attention to job titles on a resume. And while you can promote yourself to the executive director on your main marketing document, the reality will likely be unveiled to employers very soon. Consistent resume writers have to also change one’s job descriptions to correspond to the title which adds more lies and makes the situation only worse.

Education. Taking one online class shouldn’t make you put the reputable name of the college under your educational credentials section on a resume. The fact that education is something that happened long time ago doesn’t mean you can fudge facts to appear a more educated person.

Skills. This section often goes in the very end of a resume containing skills that were not mentioned in the main body of the document. That’s where one’s imagination can add a couple of important skills. Don’t list the software as a proficiency if you used it one or two times. Don’t stretch your skills because sooner or later your employer will find out the truth.

What Do HRs Do to Identify Lies?

Candidates who have never worked in human resources think it is pretty much impossible to know whether a person is lying on a resume. Nothing can be further from the truth though. The fact that one doesn’t know how facts are verified doesn’t mean they are simply read and believed. Considering the growing number of resume liars, employers today pay more attention to verifying information than ever. With that being said, we should say that not every lie is identified and there are some who get away with the misrepresentation of facts. However, the risk is not worth it. We have mentioned before that employers expect candidates to be honest on their resumes but at the same time HRs assume that job seekers will lie. Hiring authorities have their own set of tools to verify information candidates submit.

Job candidate is being interviewed First of all, if the job you are applying for will revolve around one particular skill (i.e. design, coding, etc.), you can expect to be tested before any hiring decisions is made. In this case, if you stretched your skills on your resume it will become obvious when you have your skills assessed.

Secondly, online research often helps employers understand whether the applicant is saying the truth. Many job seekers have the other versions of their resumes posted online which helps employers identify the lies. Also, sometimes basic facts and dates do not match up on social media profiles of the candidates which gives them away.

Thirdly, background and reference checks. It doesn’t take much for hiring managers to contact the former employers or schools to verify specific information on your resume. And while candidates don’t think that HRs will bother to do that, employers all the more are interested in running such checks for all candidates whom they seriously consider for the job.

How to Avoid Lying on a Resume?

Job seekers must understand one simple truth: even if employers miss lies before the hiring decision is made, that doesn’t mean that the candidate is off the hook. Those who allow “little white lies” to sneak in on their resumes are never safe as they can get caught any moment. So the best way is to never lie. It doesn’t necessarily mean that if you don’t fudge facts, you will lose the competition. Being honest pays off in the long run and it is the best policy when it comes to resume writing and job interviews.

Usually, people twist facts when they think they have an obvious issue on a resume and they are not sure about the best way to cover it up. But lying is never a good idea regardless of whether it visually helps you hide the problem on your resume. There are other ways to address common problems on a resume. For example, try changing your layout. Some design and formatting solutions allow diverting HR’s attention from the problematic areas. Besides, the things that you think would become red flags will not necessarily disqualify you from the competition. Bad things happen to everybody; what really matters is how you bounce back and overcome those issues.

There are no perfect job candidates. And if your resume isn’t perfect, it doesn’t mean you’ve got no chance. More than that, if your marketing document does appear to be perfect it may actually put on high alert those reviewing your resume. The key to successful resume writing is being authentic while focusing on key strengths that relate to the employer’s needs. If lying on a resume can ever get you to a success, it is doomed to be a temporary one.

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