The Truth About Embellishing Your Resume

Author: Angela Campiere       

By Angela Campiere

Summer is officially on its way out and the kids are back in school, which can mean only one thing — it’s time to update your resume.

Updating your resume and LinkedIn profiles on a regular basis can help highlight skills or accomplishments or even just help you connect with other event organizers. As you arrange your thoughts and pare your job duties down to digestible bullet points, remember that experts say there’s one hard-and-fast rule that you should adhere to: Tell the truth.

According to a new CareerBuilder survey, 75 percent of hiring managers have caught an applicant in a straight-out lie.

Fifty-one percent of hiring managers would automatically dismiss a candidate if a lie was caught on their resume, according to a 2014 Harris Poll released by CareerBuilder, and 40 percent said that dismissal would depend on what the candidate lied about.

“The problem with lying on your resume is that the odds of getting caught are high,” Michael Erwin, senior career adviser for CareerBuilder,  said in a recent news release.  While you might be tempted to exaggerate a little on a job duty or your level of involvement on a particular project, you could be doing more harm than good.

“The short-term gains you might make in landing the job through deception can have long-term consequences that may do serious damage to your career,” Erwin added.

What are candidates lying about the most? In a 2015 CareerBuilder survey, 62 percent of hiring managers said that embellished skill sets are the most common lie they catch, followed by embellished responsibilities (54 percent), dates of employment (39 percent), job titles (31 percent), and academic degrees (28 percent).

“Trust is very important in professional relationships, and by lying on your resume, you breach that trust from the very outset,” Rosemary Haefner, formerly vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, said in an earlier news release.  “If you want to enhance your resume, it’s better to focus on playing up tangible examples from your actual experience. Your resume doesn’t necessarily have to be the perfect fit for an organization, but it needs to be relevant and accurate.”

So how can you stand out in a sea of resumes without embellishing? Customization. According to the 2015 survey, employers said that a customized resume that is addressed to the hiring manager by name, accompanied by a customized cover letter, is one of the best ways to catch — and keep — their attention as they sort through potential candidates.

“Most hiring managers are willing to consider candidates who do not meet 100 percent of the qualifications,” Haefner said. “Job seekers can increase their chances for consideration by proving past achievements that exemplify an ability to learn, enthusiasm and cultural fit.”

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