Pad the résumé, just not too much

Teachers love to tell their students that liars and cheaters never win. But when was the last time they updated their résumés?

As local companies shed jobs by the hundreds, the job hunt is becoming more cutthroat by the day. Laid-off employees – or those who just want to be prepared – need to update résumés by putting the right spin on their experience. For some, that means embellishing facts with some window dressing and the occasional white lie.

Getting the boss lunch becomes “consultant on workplace logistics.

Entering numbers into Excel sounds better as “performed strategic data analysis.”

Handing out flyers; that’s about the same as “VP of marketing”

Some honest-Abe types might want to play is straight, possibly putting them at a disadvantage compared with people who embellish. It’s an arms race, after all.

But how much should a job seeker bend the truth on a résumé, and what fibs can experienced hiring managers spot?

Logan Bragg, who helped started the information staffing company Udig, said people often stretch the truth on their education. “People try and put it in a résumé to make it appear like they have a degree when they if fact they do not,” he said.

“When I don’t see the dates and probe a little deeper, the person said, ‘I went there for a few years and took computer classes towards a B.S., but never graduated.’  To me, that is deceiving, and I’ve learned to always probe.”

Bragg also said he is surprised by how often job seekers write buzz words. “When I question them about it, they say, ‘I’ve never used it, just knowledge of it.’ Once or twice is OK, but when you spend the majority of the interview hearing, ‘I’ve only heard of it,’ it gets repetitive and old.”

Shelby Evans and Casey DiBona, recruiters with VACO, said they look carefully at an applicant’s personal email address. It isn’t a fib, but it can be an honest peek at the applicant. They said in an email with BizSense that they are not impressed when they see “Weedqueen,” “XXXgurl,” or “bigdaddy6969.”

Evans said that sometimes honestly could cut both ways: Once a job seeker put on his résumé that his objective was “to obtain a job where I can sit down.”

David Ingram, owner of Capital TechSearch, still scratches his head when applicants lie about their criminal backgrounds even when they know Capital TechSearch runs checks.

“The candidate says their background is all clear, so we are feeling pretty good. Then we get the report back with felonies on it. The typical response from the candidate is, ‘Oh, I forgot about that one.’”

More reading:

Slate: School Lies – Why do so many executives lie about their education?

Maxim: Résumé lies you can’t get away with

Aaron Kremer is the BizSense editor. Please send your favorite résumé augmentations to [email protected]

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