Here at LiveCareer, we often receive questions from readers about resume verification. What kinds of claims are employers likely to review and cross check, and which claims will largely go unquestioned? Most of the candidates asking this question aren’t trying to get away with anything—they just want to know how deeply and by what methods their resumes will be examined. Here are some versions of these questions that we’ve received over the past few weeks.
“I’m often told that in my resume, I should attach numbers to my claims. For example, if I completed a successful project for a previous employer, I should state exactly how much revenue that project generated for the company.
But sometimes the revenue my project generated for the company—or the money saved when my ideas were implemented—isn’t a precise number. I have to provide my best guess based on what I know about the factors surrounding my contribution. Is this okay? If I claim I made 80,000 dollars for the company and my reviewers find out that I actually only generated a net total of 75,000, will I come off as a liar?”
Give your best and most honest estimate. There’s not much difference between 80,000 and 75,000 dollars, but randomly adding zeros or replacing a million with a billion can be another matter altogether. Expect your potential employers to contact your previous supervisors (and the people you list as references) and simply read your claims to these people. If they respond with shock or laughter, you’re in trouble. If not, you’re fine.
Also, keep in mind that these kinds of claims will receive more diligent scrutiny if you’re applying for a higher-level position with more extensive responsibility.
"When I lost my last job, I was told that I would be able to collect unemployment insurance, and I was told that I could use the company as a reference if I wanted to. But the HR staff never actually used the word 'lay-off.' And nobody else was technically laid off except for me. I know my performance was low, and I know I struggled. But to be honest, I can’t tell if I was laid off or fired. Is it okay if I just tell future employers that I was laid off? How deeply will they investigate this?"
You were laid off. End of story. If your future employers ask you what happened, make it clear that you lost the position through no fault of your own, and then move the conversation forward.
"I never finished college, but I when I dropped out, I was only 10 credits short of my degree. And until I reached that point, I invested thousands of dollars in my education, I studied hard, and I earned decent grades. I learned an enormous amount from my coursework. So can I just claim the degree on my resume?"
Unfortunately, if you didn’t complete your degree, it’s better not to claim that you did. Employers are likely to verify this claim—if not now, then possibly some years in the future. Resumes are often kept on file indefinitely, and if your lie is exposed down the road, you may lose your job and have a hard time rebuilding your reputation.
But don’t let your hard work and the knowledge you’ve gained go to waste. On your resume, simply state the facts: you completed most of the degree and stopped within 10 credits of the finish line. Be prepared to explain this statement in greater detail when you’re called in for an interview.
For more on how to present the (sometimes complicated) facts and details of your professional history, use the resume builder on LiveCareer.