Little white lies

by SixFigureStart | May 28, 2009

  • My Vault
You've gotta present yourself truthfully in any job application, right? Is that still the case? Well, yes and no. As the uninvited guest called "the recession" has refused to depart, the trend for executives and ordinary workers is to leave bits of information off their resumes rather than pad them. These days, there are plenty of applicants hoping to find a job they're more than qualified for, strictly for monetary reasons. And they're looking to avoid the 'discard' pile any way they can.

The Wall Street Journal confirms that HR personnel are seeing more upper-level CVs arrive for first-floor positions, and the documents in question, which should tell a lengthy tale of experience, have a suspiciously barren look to them. Furthermore, recruitment agencies are sometimes even suggesting to applicants that they omit or "massage" certain details (as in the full scope of responsibilities, or a title with a managerial bent).

In response, those making the initial callback decisions have become a little more careful about the motives of any prospective candidate. After all, an employer doesn't want to be duped into bringing someone aboard. A new hire with more skills hidden under his belt than the job calls for is liable to jump ship as soon as the general employment picture brightens.

So what to do? Yes, you can play that game -- and sometimes win -- but the WSJ piece offers a less sneaky strategy. You can legitimately rework your resume to downplay your accomplishments and highlight your transferrable skills to try to snag a lower-rung spot. But do continue to send your "real" resume to employers in your chosen field even if you decide to palm off a "lightly distorted" version to others. Workers are still being hired, so the more ways you get your "brand" out there, the better. And in this case, the better the chance that you find the job you're looking for, not just the job you need.

--Posted by Todd Obolsky, Vault Staff Writer

P.S. Coincidentally, just as this item was about to be posted, the Pink Slipped box received some email. It's a Monster ad promoting a free "webinar" for employers, promising to divulge the "five most common lies told by candidates (to) watch out for," and "new market dynamics and factors abetting or enticing candidate fraud." It's mainly talking about exaggerated resume claims, but take note: they're watching. Play it safe, and don't add -- or subtract -- anything that can come back and really sink you.

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