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Lying on Resumes – Never Ends, Never Helps

Could you be the next Scott Thompson – fired for lying on your resume?

Few people hold such high-visibility jobs as Thompson, until recently the CEO of Yahoo. So you might not think a little white lie – a stretching of the truth – will matter on your resume. You might think no one will notice or no one will check. You know you can do the job – so what’s the harm?

Well, for one thing, it’s a lie. For another, it’s the beginning of a slippery slope. First you lie on the resume, then that lie gets repeated in a company bio and becomes permanently attached to your name. The more widespread, the easier it is to check, and the more likely it will be spotted by someone who knows it for a lie. The risk is not worth the potential reward – and it’s the wrong thing to do.

Most people who think about lying on resumes are, in my opinion, insecure about their credentials. They are sure their “issue” – whatever it is (lack of a degree, lack of a specific degree, a gap in employment, a lower-level job title) – will make it impossible for them to get the job they really want. They want to be competitive against other candidates who – they are certain! – have all the right stuff.

My advice: Focus on what you DO have, not what you don’t. Emphasize your successes and be able to tell a compelling story about your challenges and accomplishments. Be confident in your value!

And find ways to make that “issue” less obvious on your resume. (Hint: Hire a professional resume writer!)

No, you can’t make yourself qualified for jobs for which you don’t have the required credentials. But the key issue is not the credential, it’s the mindset and confidence. Did Scott Thompson really think a degree in computer science from 25 or 30 years ago made him more qualified to lead a technology company than simply having an accounting degree? Chances are, no. But when he first perpetrated that lie, he believed that he needed it to land the job he wanted. It was all downhill – down the slippery slope – from there.

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