The temptation to stretch the truth on a resume can be powerful. After all, we live in a competitive age, and we’re surrounded by plenty of popular hype suggesting that a little extra edge—a GPA point here, an impressive internship there—can have a dramatic impact on our chances of “success” in the job search and consequently the rest of our lives.
Before you act on this temptation and give your credentials a fictitious boost, think twice. Beyond the ethical implications (which are serious), consider a few other angles. First, most employers keep resumes on file once candidates are hired. And if your exaggerations are discovered—even years down the road—you may be terminated on the spot. Second, experienced hiring managers have usually been in the candidate-selection business for a long time, and they’ve seen many more resumes than you have. They tend to spot exaggerations right away, and if this is your first foray into the job market, some of your adjustments may be more obvious (read: embarrassing) than you realize.
Here are the most common lies and alterations that managers tend to see on resumes, especially those submitted by less experienced applicants.
Inexperienced candidates are more inclined to stretch the truth than workers with longer track records, and as it happens, many of these newbies are recent graduates, so their GPAs hold more weight than those of their mid-career counterparts. If you’ve graduated within the past two years, feel free to include your GPA in your resume. After two years, take this detail out. In the meantime, don’t round-up or “accidentally” misstate your GPA by a few tenths of a point. This detail is very easy for employers to verify.
You worked on a project, and the project helped your company make money. You wrote a grant application, won over a new client, participated in a successful product rollout, or coached a sales team until their numbers improved. That’s great! And when you describe this accomplishment, you’ll want to quantify it by using dollar amounts, timelines, and sales figures. As you do so, keep these numbers honest and accurate. Your reviewers probably won’t be able to verify these claims, but don’t be tempted to overstate them or you may call your entire candidacy into question.
How many people worked right beside you on the project described above? Was this a singlehanded effort or were you part of a 27-member team? How many direct reports did you manage in your last position? How many clients did you handle at once? Don’t add (or subtract) so much as one imaginary person. Keep your record and your conscience clean.
Did you finish this project in three months or four years? Were you promoted from the entry level within one year or five years? Did you leave your last job in 2014 or 2010? When you held that job, were you the Assistant Branch Manager or the Assistant TO the Branch Manager? Keep in mind that dates of employment and job titles can be verified with a single phone call.
An accurate resume will hold far more value for both your employers and yourself. The more information you share, the easier it will be for both parties to find a potential match. Visit LiveCareer for details, help, and support.