Honesty is the best policy for resumes, too

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<<A resume is supposed to be a truthful account of your educational and work backgrounds and what you have accomplished in your life. We take care to craft these resumes to show ourselves in the best possible manner.

Yet the resumes of American workers are filled with lies. Estimates are that 30 percent to 40 percent of resumes contain flat-out falsehoods. When you add in exaggerations of authority or taking undue credit, some say that as many as two-thirds of all resumes could be misleading.

The biggest question is why this occurs. Why do sometimes very talented people exaggerate their achievements? Why do people who won't lie about taking the last cookie from the cookie jar have no problem lying about themselves in print?

Maybe it's because most people put too much emphasis on a resume.

Yes, a resume is the probably the first introduction you will have to most hiring agents. But most people don't get hired off of their resumes so you'd better make sure that, while your resume puts your best foot forward, it is indeed YOUR foot being put forward.

"There is no reason to lie," says Richard Bayer, chief operating officer of the Five O'Clock Club, a New York-based coaching network. "The slightest inaccuracy on your resume can come back to bite you and disqualify you for a position you have the skills and experience to win honestly."

In addition to being a sales tool designed to get you a job interview, the resume also services as a road map to guide the interviewer, Bayer says.

Bayer offers some tips for people who want to shine on their resume, but also realize they have to be completely honest:

- Rank your accomplishments. Accomplishments are very important but sometimes get left out because we are too concerned about sharing our job duties. Bayer says bullet points can be used to call attention to these.

- Don't lie about a degree. This is the easiest thing for an employer to discover and the quickest way for getting booted out the door. Still, people do it everyday.

- Use a descriptive title. Just you have an in-house job title, don't be compelled to use that unless everyone reading your resume will know what it is. Again, you can make it easier on potential interviewers if you tell them just what you did.

- Don't give each job equal prominence. Some jobs are more impressive than others. Make sure this comes through in how you describe individual jobs and achievements.

- Summarize at the top. Provide a simple statement of what kind of job you are looking for. Don't make the hiring agent guess.

- Reasons for leaving. In today's world, people get laid-off, they get fired, projects end. Don't hide or disguise this. It's not unusual to lose a job through no fault of your own today and companies understand that.
These things seem like simple common sense and they are. But you'd be surprised about how often people fail to follow them.

I once knew a woman running a staff of 25 people who performed well in her job for several years. One day she got a new supervisor and they disagreed about how she was doing business.

One thing led to another and the woman got fired for resume fraud. She had lied about a college degree she didn't actually have when she filled out an employment application 10 years before.

During that time, she had demonstrated herself as a worthy leader, getting promotion after promotion. But she lost it all when her new boss reviewed her employment application and found out that she had lied a decade before.

At the point, it didn't matter how competent she was. She lost.

See 6 Things Attorneys and Law Students Need to Remove from Their Resumes ASAP If They Want to Get Jobs with the Most Prestigious Law Firms for more information.

© Copley News Service

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