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Five Tell Tale Signs of a Resume Exaggeration

By Jeremy Cyrus 10/23/2012
Five Tell Tale Signs of a Resume Exaggeration

We all know that great resume building principles and great marketing principles have much in common. And we know that marketing success often results from spin, or the way in which words are chosen and tailored around a specific message. (Would you rather buy a house that's small, or one that's "cozy?" Would you rather hire a worker who's "dedicated and driven" or would you prefer solitary and obsessive?)

Resume spin has a place in our world, but only within limits, and there are a few very common resume exaggerations that employers encounter more often than they'd like. Some of these feel original and clever to job seekers, but watch out. Working these stretches into your resume won't fool anyone.

  1. Employers and industry experts can tell when years of experience align with number of direct reports. For example, in a wide range of fields, most professionals haven't managed more than one or two staff members at a time before the age of about 25. A stretch in this number can send up a red flag and damage an applicant's credibility.

  2. Don't exaggerate solo accomplishments. Your department may have raised 7.3 million dollars in 2011. But if your department includes 30 people, don't state or imply that you handled this task by yourself.

  3. Don't suggest that you graduated from a degree, training, or certification program if you didn't. This goes without saying, but employers are very savvy about the kinds of certifications that seem realistic when weighed against the surrounding details of a resume and cover letter.

  4. Don't say you quit if you were laid off, and don't say you were laid off if you quit. Even if this information is hard to track and verify, a single whiff of suspicion can cast a shadow over your candidacy. Own your past, be proud of what you've accomplished, and focus on moving forward.

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