Quote

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

– Canadian author Kurt Vonnegut when describing his take on illusionist and master manipulator Harry Houdini, who plays a role in the book, The Confabulist, via the Calgary Herald.

How much can I embellish my experience on my resume?

Moving forward in your career is important.  Whether it’s moving up to a manager role, a new job, or changing industries, you may be faced with a lot of competition and may be pressured to put your best foot forward. But, what if you’re tempted to exaggerate your management experience, technical skills, on-the-job results or education just to get your foot in the door?

Here are three things to think about before embellishing your experience on your resume:

  • Your references – Whether your reference is a former employer, a past manager on your team, or supervisor from a volunteer position, this person must truthfully speak to your skills, abilities and other merits if approached by a potential future employer.  If, for example, you mention on your resume you’ve managed a team of five direct reports but actually haven’t, the truth may come out in a conversation with your reference, raising a red flag.
  • The pre-employment screening process – Large or small, many companies conduct sophisticated and thorough screening activities before making a hire.  This goes beyond just checking references.  The pre-employment screening process often involves criminal record checks and verifying the education and other credentials you’ve listed on your resume.  So, if you think you can get away with adding a fluency certificate in Spanish from a college to your resume, but you’re actually only at a conversational Spanish level after a few trips to Mexico, think again.
  • Your actual performance – Let’s say you’re a long-lost relative of Harry Houdini, and despite embellishing about your education, training or management experience on your resume and during interviews, you’re a master of illusion and therefore are hired. Now comes the challenge of proving your worth in your new role.  Without the actual experience, skills or education, this may prove difficult, and can result in several negative scenarios – company re-evaluating you as a new hire or a demotion in your role.

At the end of the day, embellishing your experience on a resume can result in a loss of trust from a potential employer, or at least, someone new in your network.

Can you think of any other reasons to stick with the truth on a resume?

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