It’s tempting to inflate facts on your resume in order to gain a job or promotion. Those inflated facts, while maybe not total fabrications can be deadly to your career. An excellent case in point are the current questions concerning the resume claims of Michael Brown, the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
On Thursday, Time magazine released an investigative story that brings into question some of the qualifications listed on Brown’s resume. I find it interesting that one of the main concerns is a period of approximately three years in the seventies when Brown claimed the position of “assistant city manager” for Edmond, Oklahoma. At this time, it looks like it is possible that Mr. Brown served as assistant TO the city manager. There is a big difference in those little words “to the”. According to the Time article, Brown’s boss at the time says he was his administrative assistant. His duties were to fetch coffee, write speeches, and other assistant-type duties.
That little shift in semantics may very well not only cost Brown his job, cost his bosses a lot of embarrassment, but may also have cost some people their lives. If the accusations made by Time are true, its possible that a highly unqualified person was in charge of this very life-critical agency. A lie on a resume may have caused a lot of damage.
Lying on a resume is like writing your name in concrete. Once its there, you can’t very well go back and say “Um, well – I don’t really have a PhD,” or otherwise correct the lie; it’s a stepping stone in the career stairs that you have built, employers have relied upon the information, and information upon which you may have stacked other lies. More than likely, since it is so far back in time, that particular alleged fabrication on Brown’s resume might have been the first one. Others alleged lies came after that and served as further building blocks to his career – a claim of being a professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, and a claim of being Executive Director of a national trade union. Once the first lie is laid, you have to keep building more to keep up the image. At some point, you lose track of what is truth and what is fiction.
Beware – the truth always comes out and those blocks in your career stairway that are lies will crumble. In Brown’s case, the lies may have well come out in a disastrous way. Think about how you would feel if you built up a career on fabrications of grandeur only to fail miserably when it came time to actually perform. What if people’s lives depended on your ability to perform based on your so-called “experience”, but your “experience” was pure fluff?
The average person is not in the running for a nationally central position such as the director of FEMA. However, sometimes people’s jobs may depend on your ability to actually do your job. What if you can’t perform what you claim you can and you cause your employer to lose a huge contract resulting in layoffs? What if you find yourself in a time when leadership is demanded and you don’t really know what to do?
We professional resume writers always say there is only one hard and fast rule in resume writing: don’t lie. Our job is to successfully market your experience and skills. We do that with careful wording and strategy in construction of the resume. We can emphasize or shine the light on experience to make it shine for you without lying. Our goal is to help you achieve long-term career success – not assist you in setting yourself up for embarrassment, failure, and disaster. Feeling tempted to lie about your experience? Don’t do it. Call us and we can craft a resume using your real experience that will help you achieve your goals.