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When you cross the line and lie on a resumé

Posted by on Oct 9, 2011 in HR Issues, Moneyville | 0 comments

By Sheryl Smolkin

Read this article and comments at Moneyville.ca

I just read the results of a survey where almost half of the workers surveyed said they know someone who lied on their resumé.

My first reaction was, how dumb can people be? Even if the company interviewing you doesn’t use professional reference-checkers, all it takes is a few phone calls or a Google search to unravel a web of lies. For example, if the university you supposedly graduated from has no record that you ever attended, not only will you lose the job you applied for, you could be blacklisted by other employers in your industry.

According to the survey  by OfficeTeam of 304 senior managers and 648 workers, job duties (72 per cent), education (41 per cent) and employment dates (27 per cent) were cited as areas that are embellished most frequently.

I wondered where the line is between a lie and trying to present your accomplishments in the best light? And when you worked for a company for only a short time, do you still have to list the organization on your resumé?

I called a recruiter friend, who agreed it is important not to take credit for work you didn’t do, but pointed out there can be a fine line between lying and being proud of your accomplishments.

She suggested that a former dishwasher would have greater cachet if he notes that in addition to scrubbing pots, he was actually responsible for doing inventory and accounting for lost or broken tableware.

She also acknowledged that on occasion she has counseled job applicants to omit short-term positions that simply did not work out. But the caveat is you should never lie about the actual employment dates of the position you held before and after this brief interlude.

One option may be to say you worked from 2000 to 2005 with Company A and from 2005 to 2011 with Company C, although in fact, you were also employed by Company B from November 15/05 to December 15/05 before starting work with Company C late in the year.

Nevertheless, if in the interview you are asked for your precise dates of employment, you must come clean and explain that you spent a few weeks at another employer after Company A, but quickly moved on because it wasn’t the right fit.

Other acceptable or desirable omissions may be details of summer jobs and high school awards, as you progress in your career and these accomplishments become less relevant.

It’s a tough job market out there, but fabricating education and experience or lying about your previous title is simply wrong and will come back to bite you. On the other hand, if you focus on skills and abilities your current organization has been slow to recognize, a perceptive new employer may offer you a more challenging and better paid position.

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