Don’t Even Think About Lying on a Resume

Joyce Crane’s article, Crossing honesty line in job search can have dire consequences talks about the consequences of lying on a resume — and getting caught.

It’s not worth it. Don’t lie on your resume or in an interview.

So how do you best position yourself? By practicing your stories of what you’ve actually done at work. Uh-oh. She said “stories.” Yup, I did. And here’s why.

When you’re interviewing, you can think of yourself as giving a presentation (a speech) to an audience of one. Professional speakers practice their signature stories. These signature stories are things that actually happened to them. Some speakers embellish their stories, but the best stories are the ones that are stripped down to their truths, with nothing extra added.

Here’s a story in unrehearsed mode: “Uh, yeah, I worked on a team with a bad – well, make that a difficult – no he was really bad – project manager. We’d have these long-long-long team meetings. We didn’t get anything done in the team meetings, so I met with people separately to get something done on the project.”

Ok, so we have a candidate who’s showing some initiative, working around an inappropriate project manager. If this is your story, you could tell it this way: “I once worked with a project manager who wasn’t so hot at facilitating meetings. Our team meetings were interminable, with no resulting action items. I lived through two of those meetings and realized if I wanted to accomplish my work, I’d better use another vehicle to solve my problems. I emailed people directly when it was a one-on-one problem. I had off-line meetings with two or three people. And when I needed the whole team, I suggested an agenda to the project manager.”

In the first case, the candidate comes across as someone close to whining. In the second case, the candidate shows initiative and problem-solving ability. Same candidate, same situation, different articulation.You don’t have to lie on a resume or in an interview. Think about your accomplishments. Develop your stories. Practice them, if you’re not comfortable speaking to strangers. Your true stories will help you get the job.

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