Aggressive Resume Moves that Can Backfire

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Sometimes an aggressive, no-holds-barred approach to the job search can be a winning strategy. And sometimes it may seem tempting to bend the rules of ethics, dignity, or professionalism to gain a slim advantage and leave your less-hungry competitors out in the cold.

But before you decide you’ll do just about anything to chase your professional goals, do a little math and make sure the odds are in your favor. While you’re at it, make sure the opportunity you stand to gain is worth whatever you’re about to give up.

Here are a few resume moves that may come at a high cost and promise a bit more than they deliver:

Aggressive Resume Moves that Aren’t Worth It

These resume strategies will actually lose you job offers:

1. Overstatements 

Don’t lie on your resume. Even if it seems like the easiest move in the world, and you’re sure there’s absolutely no way for your potential employer to verify your claims one way or another, stick to the truth.

Yes, it’s possible (sometimes even easy) to abuse privacy laws and make outright false claims about on-the-job accomplishments, money you never actually made for an employer, or awards for “excellence” that you never actually received. But don’t do this. This is not a proud memory to create for yourself. And once it’s in the books and on your life timeline, it will be there forever, regardless of the immediate outcome.

Besides, getting caught might be more humiliating than you imagine.

2. Misleading Implications

As you describe a challenging hurdle you overcame or a project you completed successfully, don’t imply that you accomplished this alone if you actually acted as part of a large team. And if you were a key member of that team, that’s great, but don’t suggest you lead the whole operation if you didn’t.

Employers pay close attention to subtle word choice and they know how to make inferences. Be proud of what you’ve done, and describe your accomplishments clearly. 

3. Unwise Omissions

Feel free to omit any detail from your job history if you think it won’t help you land this specific position. These omissions can include former employers, accomplishments, awards, and even degrees and certifications. (It’s okay to omit the fact that you have a PhD if these employers only require a bachelor’s degree.) 

If a detail or skill isn’t relevant to the task at hand, leave it out. But don’t leave out dates of employment. And don’t leave out entire subsections that your reviewers will expect to see (such as “education,” “skills,” “software proficiencies,” etc.)

4. Negative Statements

Negative statements have no place in a resume or cover letter. Don’t make or imply disparaging remarks about any of your competitors for this position, your former employers, former projects, or management decisions made by your target employer or any other employer in your field. This also includes your company’s corporate competitors.

Don’t assume you’ll gain points by trashing the competition or its product, since your reviewer may have once worked for that company (or contributed to that project). And of course, don’t say or imply anything negative about yourself.

Keep It Genuine 

A strong resume and a great attitude can open doors, but sometimes it takes a little time and patience to see results. Stay the course, and don’t be tempted to look for “shortcuts” that can actually hold you back. Turn to LiveCareer for resume building tools, cover letter guidelines, and job-search leads that can help you win without ever having to compromise. 

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