Don’t Fake It — Why Your Resume Needs to Be Accurate

They say a great majority of job seekers lie on their resumes. Maybe you’ll get the job anyway, but when the truth comes out … bye-bye. Your credibility and reputation are shot. Instantly. In some jobs, it might even be a crime to lie about your experience and background.

You can almost think about applying for a job like applying for a marriage. If you lie, or falsify your background, you can absolutely bet that he or she is going to figure it out, sooner rather than later. If suddenly your name is ‘mud,’ you’ve gotten off lightly. Time to pack your bags.

Since this production company and this blog is about telling stories, think of your resume as your story. And it needs to be a story that is true to who you are. After all, don’t you really want to be hired and accepted for who you are?

“Tell the truth. Be specific about your roles,” Jeston said. “Do more than just write a list of activities. Lead your potential employer, client, what-have-you, through a story of your experience. Have a really great LinkedIn page. If you’re a filmmaker, update your IMDB, or follow up with producers about your credits.”

The only way truth will backfire on you is if you don’t tell it.

Sure, you don’t want to undersell yourself, but if you oversell yourself, it will out. Leaving things out of your resume can also bite you. We all have jobs in our past that we didn’t like and that didn’t like us. But if you totally leave that out, someone is going to wonder what’s missing. Another reason to tell the truth is that many employers actually do check your references, and they do look you up online.

“I certainly do,” Jeston said. “If I’m serious about a candidate, a reference is going to tell me a lot.” Reference letters are good, too, but be aware that an employer may still call to verify it and get a fuller picture of your work ethic.

You ever lie so much on a resume that when they ask you something you say, ‘It says that?

— Ryan Sickler, comedian

There are lots of ways a lie can get you busted. They can be avoided. And it only takes one bust to blow your entire resume and trustworthiness.

  • Your alma mater doesn’t have any record of you graduating.
  • Your references don’t back up your resume.
  • What happens if you lie or exaggerate a skill and then have to take a skill test? Or answer specific, detailed questions? Oops.
  • Your timeline seems off, as do your too-good-to-be-true job titles.
  • Does your resume sound pretty sweet, but your cover letter is on the messy side? Were these written by the same person?
  • Sure, you’ve listed skills and experience, but do they come across as vague and ambiguous? Danger phrases look like “involved in” or “familiar with.”  Red flags.
  • Unless you’re a trained CIA agent, if you are less than honest, you will have tells during your interview. You’re not the interviewer’s first rodeo, you know. 
  • Some employers and business actually do background checks. Uh-oh.
  • And then there’s that thing called Google…

Be square with the truth. And tell your own story. Every path is different, and every employer hires their own way with their own criteria. Work for someone who wants to give you an opportunity to be part of the team.

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