A recent study found that lying on resumes is rampant. Over 90% of the participants admitted to lying at least a little on their resumes.
Lying on Resumes
The researchers found that job candidates’ lies grouped neatly into four categories. Common resume lies included:
1. Work histories and job responsibilities — what the participants did.
2. Abilities — how well they performed their jobs.
3. Involvement — level and amount of time spent.
Lying on Your LinkedIn Profile
The researchers also looked at what people lie about on their LinkedIn profiles.
They found the same four topics.
However, they found people lie more on LinkedIn about information that’s hard to verify in interviews and background checks — like interests.
People lie less about information that’s easy to verify — like responsibilities.
How to Stop Lying on Your Resume & LinkedIn Profile
In my experience, lies seep into resumes and LinkedIn profiles via adjectives and adverbs. Those modifiers seem to tempt people to stretch the truth.
Look at the following examples of how a job seeker might represent his/her ability and involvement with C-level executives:
Quickly and successfully built C-level relationships across functional areas.
The words “quickly” and “successfully” reflect opinion. They might be right. They be might lies. Who knows?
When HR managers and hiring managers see adjectives and adverbs on a resume, many wonder, “Is this person lying?”
Served on IT Steering Committee with COO, CIO, and CFO.
That’s pure fact. Facts generate more credibility than opinions.
Cut Adjectives & Adverbs
Read through your resume.
Highlight the adjectives and adverbs, then rewrite to eliminate them.
Other people get to describe you with adjectives and adverbs. You’ll benefit from sticking to facts.
A Second Way to Make Your Resume Believable
The researchers found that people lie more on their resumes than on their LinkedIn profiles.
If you want to make your resume believable, make it public. Copy and paste it into your LinkedIn profile.
Submit your resume to public scrutiny and the eyes of former colleagues who know the truth about your career.
No one wants to be caught lying, so they tend to keep lies private. Thus, when you make your resume public, you add to your credibility.
More Job Search Lies
While the study didn’t mention employment dates and job titles, they’re also subject to lies. Here’s a little more career advice:
Lying About Dates of Employment
Rather than lying, avoid using months. Simplify all dates to years (more here).
If someone wants to know more exact dates, they will ask you about them.
Lying About Job Titles
Again, the study didn’t mention it, but it happens.
What can you do if your job titles don’t mean much or don’t match keywords on a job posting?
I’m OK with reframing job titles as long as you give an accurate description of what you did. I also add parenthetical job titles.
Ask yourself if you would be OK talking about a revised job title during the interview process. Would your referees will validate it before a job offer? If your answers are yes, then you’re good to go.
In summary, tell the truth on your job search materials, including your resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letters, and job applications. It will serve you well.
If you need inspiration, look at the executive resumes here.
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Images: Vector Fusion Art, iQoncept, CartoonResource
Updated April 2019
© 2018 – 2019, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.
Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, writes all of AvidCareerist’s posts. She has written for and been quoted by leading business, general, and career media outlets, including Forbes, Mashable, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Lifehacker, Ask.com, Social Media Today, IT World, SmartBrief, Payscale, Business News Daily, and the Muse. Let her background and experience inform your job search strategy and decision making.