OK, so you’re asking … how do other candidate’s lies affect your job search?
Because 40 – 50% of resumes contain lies (see “Resumes Lie – Part 1” at http://www.recareered.com/blog/2012/04/30/resumes-lie-part-1/).
When between 40 – 50% of all resumes contain lies, hiring managers, recruiters, and HR reps get suspicious. If your audience expects that many resumes contain lies, they can also be suspicious about your resume, even when you’re telling the truth.
And when you’re facing an average 1,000 competitors for each advertised position, suspicion usually means your resume will be passed over or rejected.
But there’s good news – you can affect reader trust. There are a number of things you can do to avoid unwarranted employer suspicion about your resume.
Here are 8 ways to make readers see that your resume tells the truth:
- Education: Include graduation dates in the education part of your resume. Many senior graduates have been told to exclude graduation dates from resumes – this is bad advice but advice that’s given often. Excluding graduation dates does more than just mask your age – it also raises suspicion if you really earned a degree. Excluding graduation dates make it difficult for employers to verify if you graduated. Why would you want to give a potential employer a first impression that you might not have earned the degree on your resume?
- Education – Part 2: Include your actual degree and major. Many candidates exclude either actual degree (BA, BS, or what type of Masters) or their major. Some candidates exclude these details because their career has taken a different path than their original degree. Others exclude because they just don’t think it’s important to readers. Just like excluding graduation dates, excluding your degree or your major make it more difficult for employer verification – so it creates a first impression of mistrust.
- Social Media: It’s difficult to lie on social media, because your network validates what you say. At the same time, it’s easy to lie on a resume. It’s critical to make sure that your social media profiles match your resume. Over 90% of employers use social media as part of candidate background checks and about 2/3 review social media before granting interviews. So if you’re not careful and your social media profile doesn’t support your resume, you risk raising employer concern about your resume’s truthfulness.
- Employment Dates: Include them. Believe it or not, a decent percentage of you submit resumes that completely leave out employment dates. Some may think employment dates are irrelevant, others may be trying to mask short stints or gaps. Whatever your reason, leaving off dates raises huge red flags in an employer’s eyes.
- Gaps: Identify employment gaps clearly. If you’re not trying to mask a current or recent job gap, include months when you list employment dates. Many employers and almost all recruiters will ask for months to be spelled out in their application process. So if you have nothing to hide … why make it look like you are hiding something?
- Titles: The typical reason candidates might lie about job titles is because the actual job title didn’t reflect the aspect of the job you wish to highlight on your resume. For instance, if your title was Senior Marketing Analyst, but you managed the department after your former boss left, there’s no need to lie about titles. Just put Acting Department Manager in parentheses – you’ll describe your “real” job plus your formal title, so background checks won’t backfire on you. For those who lie on their resume, take the case of Scott Thompson, Yahoo’s CEO who was recently caught lying on his resume. There’s a good chance you’ll get caught in a lie through background checks and/or social media.
- Exclusions: Many candidates exclude jobs early in their career, leaving gaps that are suspicious to HR reps and recruiters. Other candidates exclude short job stints or employers that fired them – HR reps and recruiters have been trained to look for this. Why give the impression that you’ve been fired … or worse, in jail? Include all early full time work experience post graduation.
- Subject Matter Expertise: This is tricky – because you have the ability to customize resumes and subject matter expertise for each specific employer. However, you can’t customize your social media profiles or what Google says about you, for a specific reader. You’ll want to make sure that your social media profiles, contents of Google searches, and your individually customized profile don’t conflict, causing employer doubt. This is a tricky balancing act.
The truth and the impression of the truth are two different things.
As a truthful resume writer, you’re expected to do more than just tell the truth. You’ll also need to give the impression that you’re telling the truth, so you’re not accidentally labeled a liar.
Realize that employers won’t tell directly you if they think your resume contains lies or mistruths … they just won’t select you for interviews. This means you’ll rarely be given the chance to defend yourself when your resume gives the impression of lies.
It’s critical to understand how and why employers are sensitive to resume lies – so you can make sure your honest resume doesn’t accidentally set off any red flags, designed to catch the lairs.
By understanding what items employers routinely search for evidence of lies, truthful candidates can make sure you don’t accidentally fall into one of these employer traps intended to catch the real liars.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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