Resumes: Exaggerating and Manipulating the Truth
Our culture tends to fill our heads with a barrage of mixed and confusing messages. We’re told to love our bodies but also injure ourselves to look attractive. We’re told to obey authority but also to stand out from the crowd. And we’re told to be honest and maintain our integrity, but also to compete fiercely in order to avoid being left behind. Some of us have the strength to navigate this confusing world without getting entangled in a self-destructive web of lies. But for some, these conflicts are just too much to handle, and the temptation to lie on a resume can become too strong to resist, especially during times of desperation. When we need work very badly, it’s hard to ignore the fact that resumes can be subjective, and the truth about what one did or didn’t actually do on the job can be slippery and hard to prove.
Any wise advice on this topic is simple: Just tell the truth. Your dignity and integrity are two things that can never be taken away from you, no matter how long you’ve been unemployed. But it’s one thing to preach this message and another thing to claim that it’s always easy to be honest. Beyond the ethical and obvious, here are a few additional reasons to stick to the facts:
You may not get caught right away, but if you fool anyone, you’ll be complicating your own life. Claiming you’ve done something you haven’t done will catch up to you as soon as you’re asked to do it again.
It’s really, really embarrassing if you get caught. All it takes is one potential employer to call you on something, and you’ve created a cringe-inducing memory that you’ll have to live with forever.
The employer-employee relationship is real, and ideally, lasting. Don’t build your most important relationships on lies.
Even if you feel tempted to overstate or spin your accomplishments, never, ever lie about two things: Your dates of employment and the title of your position. These are two facts that all employers can easily share, and a simple phone call can uncover your lie, tank your prospects, and tarnish your reputation. Don’t burn your bridges before they’re built.