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The Dishonest Resume

Resume bloat—padded information—is something every resume writer fears. We don’t want to write dishonest resumes. Yet, many of us are trapped by our clients into doing just that.

An article on states that up to 53% of resumes contain outright lies, while nearly 78% include misleading information.1 It’s hard to believe that such statistics are really true.

The article gives hiring decision makers some tips for how to pick up on whether a job candidate has embellished his or her resume. I’ve added some additional points for which HR staff could be screening.

  • Confirm that every piece of information ‘adds up.’ It should be verifiable. In other words, if your previous employer were to look in your employee file, they’d be able to say, “Yes, John was ….” or “Yes, Mary did …”
  • Make sure you back up education with a transcript. You don’t have to give the date of your graduation, but be prepared for that request for your transcript. High-performing employees have lost their jobs because they couldn’t produce a transcript that backed up their claims on their resumes.
  • Check your employment dates. If you’ve padded those dates, it can come back to haunt you. This is one of the reasons I often avoid exact month and year date ranges and just use whole years.
  • Look for exaggerated job titles. It’s one thing if your official title within the company was effectively something else functionally. It’s another thing to use an exaggerated title which would never be applied to the position you held. I recommend comparing job duties with the job descriptions found at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website.
  • Watch for ‘consulting’ as a gap filler. If you genuinely offered consulting services, then include this as a gap filler. You’ll need to highlight at least one consulting project with its results, or it will look bogus.

Are you tempted to embellish information to ‘give yourself a better chance’ to get that job? It just isn’t worth it.

Instead, let’s focus on the things you’ve accomplished—no matter how minor they might seem to you. We’ll use strategies which won’t leave you vulnerable to the charge of dishonesty.


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