Lying on your resume – have you ever done or would you ever do it???

Yahoo Inc CEO Scott Thompson recently handing in his resignation over a lie on his resume, highlights the problem with fabricating or “beefing up” your resume to look better for a position that you are applying for. Taking from the story, the worst part about his case is that he wasn’t hired for the Science Degree that appeared on his resume, it was stated that he was hired based on his experience as an executive, which begs to ask the question – why even do it?

Working in the recruitment industry on behalf of our clients, our task is to find the most suitable candidate. It is our screening processes that are the buffer between letting that person through the gates and stopping them before they move to the next stage.

We all know what a lie is but what is considered as lying on your resume?

Basically lying about qualifications, actual workplaces, dates of employment and job titles that you’ve held are the major things that stick out. Good, strong screening processes should catch people out in that regard.

…but what about the other side of the coin, “beefing up” or “padding up” your resume?

This is the more common thing that occurs on a resume and the question is – is it a lie or is a person just trying to get ahead of other applicants by over-selling their skills? You get told more and more these days with a competitive job market to sell, sell, sell so that you get noticed but, can it also harm your chances? We asked some clients regarding this and their opinion was as follows:

“In our experience we have seen some resumes that are just fantastic, have called the applicant in to meet us and have been disappointed with their performance at interview… they just didn’t reflect what they had written in their resume”.

Another stated:

“We have changed our recruitment process now to doing phone interviews first after receiving applications. We ask a few set technical questions to understand their experience as most of the people in our industry state that they can do everything. By asking those questions we usually find that only a few actually have any real experience.”

Looking at these responses as well as interviews that we conduct ourselves, the main questions that you should ask yourself when stating your experience are:

  • What have you actually done throughout your career?
  • What have you got the ability to do?
These are some of the main things that we focus on when interviewing and screening applicants and you will often see them in selection criteria for Government based roles under the words “demonstrated” and “ability to”. Basically, when we speak with candidates a lot of people tell us “I can do this” and “I can do that” however our response is “have you actually done it and where did you do it?” In stating that you “can do” a task, is still of interest to us as you may be able to give examples of similar programs or tasks that you may have learned and your capacity to learn a new task.
Coming back to your resume – look at what you have written on your resume and ask yourself whether it reflects who you are and what you do, your work experience and your qualifications. If it doesn’t, you should make a few changes as someone, somewhere, sometime, may find out – just ask ex-CEO of Yahoo Inc Scott Thompson.
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