Monday, November 17, 2008
Get Rid of the Big Fat Lies -- and the Little Skinny Ones -- on Your Resume
"Welcome, Ms. Smith. Please have a seat."
"Thank you. I'm very excited to have this opportunity to interview with Blubber, Inc.."
"Great! Well, let's get down to it. It says here that you attended the University of Florida and graduated in 1995 with a degree in business. Is that correct?"
"Yes. I worked very hard and learned so much. I'd really like to put that knowledge to work for Blubber."
"That's very interesting, Ms. Smith. But could you please explain why the University of Florida says you graduated with a degree in fine arts, with an emphasis on basket weaving in Africa?"
"Oh, uh, that must be a mistake. I'm sure we can clear that up."
"OK, then let's move on. You also say that you had the project management job with XYZ Corp. for three years. But their records show you worked as an office assistant, and never headed up a $2 million project."
"Yes, I did. Well, not technically. I worked for the woman who did, but I was heavily involved. I wasn't specifically the project manager, but I was pretty darn close."
"Ms. Smith, I have to tell you we're concerned about some of these discrepancies. Didn't you read our ethics rules when you applied for this job? That we have specific rules about truthfulness and full disclosure?"
"Well, sure I did. But I thought they were more like guidelines, rather than actual rules."
"Goodbye, Ms. Smith. And good luck -- you're going to need it."
Right now, I want you to look at your resume. Look at it hard. I want you to find any errors, and I'm not talking about typos or grammatical mistakes. I'm talking about inflated information that doesn't just make you sound worthy -- it turns you into a liar.
Times are tough, and you're desperate to land a good job. Or maybe you started padding the resume so long ago you're not sure anymore what's true and what's not. But here's the deal: Obama is headed for the White House.
You may wonder what that has to do with you, but it's going to have a big impact. The vetters for jobs in the Obama Administration are checking everything from text messages and e-mails of job candidates to whether they've ever gotten a ticket for more than $50. Tough? Yes, but that's to be expected for the president-elect who is promising big change in the way business is done.
While a private employer may not be quite so tough, I think candidates are going to be checked out as never before. Already, employers are being advised on how to spot resume fraud, and with the glut of candidates on the market, employers have the luxury of not only taking time to vet candidates thoroughly, but making certain that they know exactly who they are hiring.
So, it's time to come clean. Here are some facts that are easily checked -- either by an employer or the background checking company they hire -- to make sure you are telling the truth:
1. Schools. Make sure your dates are correct, as well as the major field of study, GPA, etc.
2. Honors. Everything from graduating at the top of your class to an industry award can be verified with a couple of phone calls by an employer.
3. Job titles. While many former employers will only verify your dates of employment, it's easy enough to use online resources to find people who used to work with you and can talk about your past work performance, titles, duties, etc.
4.Credit history. If you are applying for a position where you will have anything to do with money, chances are good your credit history may be reviewed. Be prepared to explain why it's bad, if that's the case, and what you're doing to improve it.
5. Criminal history. Unless you're applying for a government job, it won't be required that you answer if you were charged with a crime. And, most employers are willing to even overlook some convictions if it was a youthful indiscretion or you got caught with one too many glasses of wine in your system. If you were convicted of a crimes that involve sex, drugs or theft, it's going to be tougher. On the application, simply note that you would like to discuss the issue. Remember: It's pretty simple to access court records concerning a conviction, so it's better to come clean in person and try and explain it rather than lying outright.
6. Online. First, try and clean up your reputation with these tips. Second, get your story together on how you'll explain anything that an employer digs up about you online. It's better to show you've learned your lesson rather than trying to lie about something unflattering that is revealed on the Internet.
What other issues should a job hunter consider to pass the vetting process?