Many Human Resources staffers preach the dangers of lying on your resume, and they’re right to an extent. Inventing companies and inflating employment lengths can get you fired or at the very least embarrassed during the hiring process. But employers don’t want complete honesty, do they? There are plenty of facts that are better left private (don’t disclose your religion, age, race, etc.). And employers expect you to put your best foot forward, so show them your very best. You’re giving them a snapshot of who you are; there’s nothing wrong with using just the right lighting to show them your good side on a resume.
So here are 7 “lies,” or careful manipulations of reality that will never get you into trouble (and they have a good shot of landing you a job)
1. Lies of Omission
No one in the hiring process wants to see an exhaustive list of duties from every job you’ve ever had. They don’t even want to know every job you’ve ever had. Think from their perspective: facing a stack of resumes, they aren’t searching for every last detail about you, they’re trying to find good candidates. Scan your resume for anything that doesn’t scream, “Hire me!” for this particular position. If you can’t trim it or modify it to make it relevant and appealing, delete it altogether. If you’re left with more white space than print, don’t waste your time by applying.
2. Take Credit for Team Success
Were you a member of a department that increased sales (or reduced expenses) by 10% for 5 years running? List that among your accomplishments if you were even the least bit instrumental in the success. You don’t need to take all the credit, just show your future employer you be a team player on a winning team.
3. Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics
Almost any job can be converted into numbers somehow: sales, expenses, efficiency, ranking, and especially anything with a dollar sign attached to it. Numbers jump off the page, cutting through the syrupy resume verbiage. If you can fit terms like million, Fortune 500, or any percentage over 100 into the picture, even better. We don’t recommend you fudge the numbers. Just select the ones that are most impressive.
4. Compare Yourself Favorably
Once you’ve found a way to make your job performance measurable by rank or statistics, you need to show how you stack up to your competition at previous jobs or within the industry. Highlight those areas that make you shine. If you aren’t the very best, simply state that you were/are “among the leading performers,” “in the top 3,” or any other attention-getting comparison that highlights your strengths.
5. Marvel at the Ordinary
So you waited tables at a coffee shop for two years, that doesn’t have to induce yawns. Convey your mastery of quality customer service. Let them know about your keen sense of intuition and initiative. Find some way to compress your lump-of-coal job into a sparkling diamond of experience. Prospective employers want people with a strong work ethic; don’t just tell them you have it, show them by describing your experience with purpose.
6. Love Every Job
If you haven’t absolutely fallen in love with one or more of your past jobs (or the one you’re trying to leave) pretend you did. Think of every position you’ve ever held as a fantastic opportunity. One of the single most important traits in an employee is attitude, and a bad one will cover your resume like a foul stench. Your potential boss won’t be able to throw it away fast enough. A positive attitude toward past jobs will help you feel better about what you’ve accomplished and who you are, a perk that will help you throughout the hiring process.
7. Change Your Identity
We’re not suggesting you use a false name on a resume, that could get tricky once you start filling out your tax forms. But it’s helpful to picture yourself as the person doing the hiring. What would you want to read about a candidate? How would you want the resume to look? Why would you hire . . . you? Make your resume match that image, and you’ll be well on your way to that elusive first interview and a chance at landing a job you just might genuinely fall in love with.
Those were some of the “resume lies” you can get by without really getting into trouble. What do you think? We would love to hear your thoughts.
If you don’t mind thinking “out of the box,” make sure to take a look at some of the most creative resumes.