Stay Honest with Your Resume

by | Nov 14, 2023 | Resume Tips

You hear and read a lot about ethics in the workplace. Large companies will have entire departments focused on the subject and, at the very least, virtually all employers have some type of policy regarding the topic. Most business relationships are built, at least partially, by a mutual respect and honesty between the two (or more) parties.

With all of this energy focused on being professional and doing the right thing, you would naturally expect that this would also apply to job seekers and their search. The reality may be found in a recent survey conducted by a company named ResumeLab. Their research found that 70% of candidates lie on their resumes and 37% admitted to fibbing frequently. Perhaps even more troubling, is that those that are the most educated are the most dishonest, as 85% of those with masters or doctoral degrees are misleading or embellishing. And this is with what most believe to have been a job seeker labor market over the last 5+ years.

One can only speculate regarding why job seekers are feeling this need to be dishonest. You could apply this to the competition for jobs, but it has been a pro candidate market for a number of years. Perhaps the “need for speed” is causing this issue. The rush created by the tight labor market is causing confusion and misunderstanding when providing information or answering a question.

One theory I have is the growing use of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) by employers has created a first review of your resume done by a software program. This assessment of your resume is done by scanning your document for key words that apply to what is being sought in the job posting. The thought is that candidates may be writing their resume based on what they believe the ATS wants to read, therefore leading to embellishments and enhancements.

When reviewing the ResumeLab research deeper, amongst the top areas for misleading information beyond general responsibilities was the job title used and the length of time employed at a position. Job titles can be so subjective that I can easily envision someone becoming tempted to match their current one with what is listed on the posting. The length of time may be because job seekers are now finding that Hiring Managers are questioning the “job hopping” that have occurred over recent years.

Whatever the possible reason, it should go without saying (or writing in this situation) that a person should not lie on their resume. There are a number of reasons why, that go beyond that it is unethical and unprofessional. Let’s take a look at some of these “other” reasons.

• Walking Into a Bad Fit: One of the unexpected impacts of employees departing more frequently from their current employer is that companies expect new hires to on-board and be productive quickly. You’re likely to not receive much time to learn the position in order to be successful. By misrepresenting your work knowledge or education, you run the significant risk of failing in the position and starting your job search all over, but this time from a position of being involuntary terminated.

• Difficult To Remember: One of the largest challenges that a person faces when lying is how to keep straight your misstatements. It is easy to remember the truth because it is something that actually happened. You may find yourself in the precarious position (either during the interview process or after being hired) of having to remember what you wrote or told someone. A savvy Hiring Manager who is listening closely will pick up on any variance in your answer. They may ask the same question in a slightly different way in order to compare your answers and your resume.

• May Reflect Poorly On Others: If you were referred to the company by a current employee, then your misdeed may unfortunately be negatively applied to them also. If you know others in the organization such as family members or friends, they likewise could have their reputation sullied by your decision.

It may be very tempting to edit your resume in order to enhance your experience, skills, or education. This is especially the case if you are currently unemployed and in immediate need to find new employment quickly. Do everything you can to fight off this feeling and stay honest with your resume. This will ultimately be what is best for both yourself and the company you wish to join.

As always, best of luck in your job search.

The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.

Joe Stein
WNY Human Resources Professional

Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at:
Joe Stein

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