Defending Your Resume (3 Common Resume Lies)

Can you defend the statements on your resumes?

As a human resource professional and expert resume writer I know how to identify resume embellishments…or lies. I like to talk to my clients and ask questions about their current resume – just like in my old interview-screening days. This helps when creating a resume that best fits the client’s personality and aspirations.  But every once and while, I have to ask some “difficult” questions to ensure that their resume makes sense. If I lie or stretch the truth on a client’s resume it could be exposed during a real interview and cost them a job. That’s what happened to a former CEO of Yahoo!; he said the lie on his resume was put there by a service.

Even the tiniest fib can paint you as a liar. Which brings us full circle and back to the main question – are you ready to answer questions about your resume?

Here are 3 common examples

  • Stretching your experience. I think some folks like to round up the years of experience or tenure on a job. But many times when altering dates to meet certain “experience requirements” you can forget which lie…ahem; excuse me; you can forget which dates you’ve put on which job board or LinkedIn profile. So one source my show 2 years and another 3 years. Dates need to make sense so be sure to do your math because employers can verify your dates of employment with previous employers.
  • Another common lie is listing skills that you do not have. For example, you’ve heard of Oracle but never used Oracle; so don’t put it on your resume. Don’t list training, skills or certifications that you really don’t have in hopes of getting on the job training – it doesn’t work out like that.
  • Inflating your job title is also common. I totally understand that one company may call your position Human Resources Generalist, when another may call it Human Resource Business Partner. Or an Office Receptionist is someone else’s Administrative Assistance, those examples are lateral. I’m talking about going from Assistant to Supervisor. Or titling yourself a Manager when you weren’t.

Lies Can Be Exposed

When you get a call from a hiring authority, you don’t want to seem uncomfortable, unprepared or embarrassed. It’s important to have verifiable information on your resume from top to bottom. Most GOOD Recruiters and Hiring Managers can smell a lie or misinterpretation a mile away.

A recent SHRM study says 50% of all applicants embellish on their resume and 80% flat out lie, but that does not make it okay. And companies are using more assessment tools and background checks to sniff out the liars.

If you have employment gaps, or transitioning to a new career use your cover letter or a career profile to explain your situation. But most importantly, be prepared to answer questions about your resume.

So when it comes to lying on your resume – just don’t do it, because historically it’s not awesome or worth it!

* You or someone you know needs help with the resume and job search. Join the Resume Crusade, contact me ‘’ *

4 thoughts on “Defending Your Resume (3 Common Resume Lies)

  1. Well said. Lying or embellishing the truth is never okay. Employers want the truth. If I don’t have a specific skill a job is looking for, I am completely honest. But, I make sure to let them know on the job interview, if they call, that I am willing to learn that skill. That’s how I got hired on my current job.

    1. Willingness is huge – showing the ability to learn new concepts and be flexible is valuable. Thanks for sharing and reading the

  2. Great post , Chris! More importantly lies or embellishing can black ball you from a recruiter’s short list indefinitely. I would rather you tell me you don’t meet our requirements than to sell me on a lie. I would also add that candidates that have joined sites like LinkedIn should be sure that both their resume and profile tell the same story.

    Good advice my friend!

  3. Informative post! Resume writing is the most important step in your career advancement. Poorly written resume can influence a bad impact and can be the greatest bottleneck in your career. Your resume should include all the necessary information including objective, your experiences and other important fields. Even if you are professional writer, grammatical errors are obvious. It is always advisable to go through your resume once it has been completed. Though, you consider that your resume is complete, but if you evaluate it deeply, you will find so many mistakes that should be corrected. Taking the services of freelancers or professional proofreaders is always beneficial as they are professionals and experienced in detecting and correcting the grammatical and other typo errors.

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