Truth or Consequences

Feeling under qualified or disadvantaged in the job search? It can be very tempting to lie on your resume to make your background more marketable or more appealing. Who would know, right? The answer is that the employer will know – maybe not right away but they will find out and then you are not only unemployed again but could possibly be facing litigation. It is never a good thing to lie on your resume.

With that said, there are some instances where creative wording can be a benefit to you in your resume. For example, if your company used strange job titles, you can benefit from changing the name of the job title to something more traditional but still accurate. If your title was Spin Doctor, you might want to change it to Publicist or Public Relations Director. We saw a lot of the less traditional titles pop up during the heady days of the dot com bubble when different was trendy (albeit somewhat silly). As long as the title you select is accurate and does not artificially promote you on the career ladder, it is acceptable to change the title to something more recognizable.

You can also eliminate a job in your career history, if the job lasted less than six months. Some jobs are either “filler” jobs to generate income during a job search that occurs as a result of a layoff. It is okay to leave these jobs off your resume. Sometimes, you work a job for a few weeks and realize it just isn’t working out so you leave for something better. It is acceptable to leave this position out of your job history to avoid seeming like a job hopper. Another situation in which you could omit a job would be a job in which you worked for a short time but then left to accept a much better offer.

While you may leave out a job on your resume, you need to be accurate with the dates you list on your resume. I generally recommend using month/year format if you have a continuous job history with no gaps and no job hopping. However, if you have some gaps or need to leave out a position, you may use the year only format on your resume. If you left a job in January of 2000 and did not take another job until April of 2000, using the year only format will allow that gap of four months to “disappear” from the resume. When completing a job application, you must list all jobs and dates accurately; since the application tends to come last in the job acquisition process now days, it shouldn’t be a hindrance to your interview process.

You can’t lie on a resume but you can construct it to your benefit. You should never fabricate or change educational information. Educational credentials are very easily verified and are the first pieces of information that are suspect on a resume. Some job seekers worry because the name of their college has changed since they graduated. They do not know how to list it – under the old name or under the new? I say use both. List the degree under the old name and then place the new name in parentheses. For example, Memphis State University is now the University of Memphis. A degree would be listed as:

Bachelor of Science – Criminal Justice, Memphis State University (University of Memphis)

Skills are also pieces of information that should not be changed. If you are comfortable using a skill in the workplace (let’s say a software package, for example), you can list it on your resume. Do not list skills which you could not demonstrate any familiarity. More and more often, employers are requiring applicants to demonstrate their abilities with software or other technology as part of the interview process. It would be very embarrassing to be asked to create a short Power Point slide show during an interview because you claimed proficiency only to have to confess that you have never really used it.

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