Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Survey: Job Seekers are Stretching the Truth

By Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources,

There's marketing yourself on your résumé, and then there's flat-out lying. Many job seekers are crossing the line.Although just 5 percent of workers actually admit to fibbing on their résumés, 57 percent of hiring managers say they have caught a lie on a candidate's application, according to a survey. Of the hiring managers who caught a lie, 93 percent didn't hire the candidate.When résumé inconsistencies do surface during background checks, they raise concerns about the candidates' overall ethics. Forty-three percent of hiring managers say they would automatically dismiss a candidate who fibbed on their résumé. The rest say it depends on the candidate and situation.Stretched dates to cover up employment gaps is the most commonly-caught résumé lie, with nearly one-in-five hiring managers saying they have noticed this on a candidate's application. Other top résumé lies include:

Past employers (18 percent)
Academic degrees and institutions (16 percent)
Technical skills and certifications (15 percent)
Accomplishments (8 percent)

Reasons for lying range from the innocuous (not being sure of the exact employment dates) to the more sinister (intentionally being deceitful to get the job). To ensure your résumé is accurate but still portrays you in the best light, heed these tips:

If you don't have much formal experience... Highlight any activities or coursework that could be relevant to the position. Volunteer activities, part-time jobs and class projects can all provide transferable skills and training.

If you didn't quite finish your degree... Do not indicate on your résumé that you graduated. Instead, name the university and list the years in which you attended.

If you were out of work... Don't stretch the employment dates to cover the gap. Instead, keep the dates accurate and address the gap in your cover letter. Be sure to mention any classes you took or volunteer work you performed during this time to keep your skills up-to-date.

If your company uses unfamiliar titles... This is one of the only circumstances in which it's acceptable to change your title to something more recognizable. For example if your title was "primary contact," and you performed the duties of an administrative assistant, you can clarify your title by writing "Primary Contact/Administrative Assistant." Giving yourself a promotion to "office manager," however, crosses the ethical line.

Rosemary Haefner is the Vice President of Human Resources for She is an expert in recruitment trends and tactics, job seeker behavior, workplace issues, employee attitudes and HR initiatives.

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