Haven’t been completely honest on your resume? Don’t fret. It’s completely acceptable.
In fact, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t exaggerate the truth a little.
This doesn’t mean that you should blatantly LIE on your resume. Don’t add a degree if you didn’t go to college or a certification (like CPA) if you never got around to taking the exams, or worse, a job you never held.
In fact, never lie about anything that can be verified.
Instead, embellish the skills and experience you already have. Did you take German in high school? Then, you have “intermediate” knowledge of German. Did you take a web-design course in college? Then your technical skills include HTML.
However, you must realize that lying is a short term solution. It may get you the job but to keep that job, you’ve got to turn that lie into the truth.
Here’s an example of someone successfully lying on his resume.
Told by Garret D.
‘So there I was, in a small room, interviewing for a Sr. Financial Analyst role at a well known retailer in America. With three rounds under my belt and with two more people to go, I was kicking ass.
My fourth interview was with the VP of Finance. He came in, shook my hand and sat down. No smile. No pleasantries. He got right to the questions. Instantly, I became nervous.
He asked about my experience. He asked about my education. He then asked me some scenario type questions. As I answered them one by one, my confidence began to come back. Until he asked me about my Excel skills. Per my resume, I was an “expert.”
“I’ve used Excel throughout my prior roles and am pretty comfortable with it.” I lied smoothly.
His stone-cold eyes bore into my soul as he dug deeper, “What are some of your favorite formulas?”
Oh Shit! I didn’t know any Excel formulas. I’d barely used it.
So, I stammered “Well, I’ve used so many. Sum, sumif, average and others. Ummm … for some reason I can’t think of any others right now.”
Mr. VP nods and moves on. Five mins later he gets up, shakes my hand and walks out.
At this point, I knew I’d screwed up. There was no way I was going to get this job. He had caught on that I was no expert on Excel.
I had five mins until the next interview to figure out a way to salvage the situation.
I remembered that my Windows smartphone had Excel on it. I opened up the program, went straight to the help menu and looked up formulas. I quickly wrote down a few names along with descriptions and put the phone away just as the VP of Operations walked in. I quickly wiped the sweat off my forehead and stood up to introduce myself.
He smiled back, shook my hand and asked “How’s it going so far?”
I knew that my only move was to address the awkwardness of my previous interview. I had to own up and deescalate the situation. It was my only play.
So I answered, “It was going really well until my previous interview. Now, I’m not so sure. I think I may have messed up.”
“What happened?” he inquired.
“He asked me to list my favorite Excel formulas and for some reason, my mind went blank. I could not recall a single good formula if my life depended on it.”
His face became slightly serious. “Well, do you know Excel?”
“Of course, I’ve used it many times before.” Then I proceeded to rattle off five or six formulas I’d just picked up … vlookup, hlookup, matchif, sumproduct, etc etc.
His demeanor changed and he smiled “That’s OK. It happens to the best of us. It’s just that we rely on Excel quite a bit here.”
And with that he turned to my resume and began our interview.
The next day, I had a job offer. I was to start in two weeks.
And you know what I did in those two week? I Googled the hell out of Excel. I YouTubed as many videos as I could and practiced my ass off. By the time I started, I was at least as comfortable with Excel as any analyst. In fact, over time, I became so good that people from other departments would come to me for help.’
Garrett’s took a ‘white lie’ and turned it into a huge success. He took ownership of his lie.
So go ahead. Embellish.
Did you manage one person in your last role? Say that you managed a team. Were you on the team that implemented the new ERP software? Write that you led the team. Did you once use PowerPoint to put a slideshow of your grumpy cat? You’re an expert at PowerPoint presentations.
But remember, once you lie about something, you better be prepared to back it up. You must OWN your lie.
Your resume is the shiny wrapper that employers see when they go employee shopping. Remember that you are a business and your skills are the product you sell. The shinier the wrapper around your product, the more attention it generates.
But remember that the shiny wrapper without a quality product inside will only cause buyer’s remorse.