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Resumes – Lipstick on a Pig

Resumes – Lipstick on a PigDon't put lipstick on me!

If you Embellish, it will be a Blemish – or Much Worse


The results of a recent Career Builder survey have been splattered all over the internet in the last several days. The responses reveal that 58% of employers have caught a lie on a resume; and 33 % said they have seen an increase in resume embellishments post-recession.


The poll found that this transgressions include embellished skill set (57%), embellished responsibilities (55%), dates of employment (42%), job title (34%), academic degree (33%), companies worked (26%), and accolades/awards (18%). It is very interestingly the industry that finds the most fibbing is financial services (eh-hem) at 73%! But Information Technology came in a 63%, and Health Care at 63%., a provider of on-demand employment background screening, found that 34% of job applicants lie on resumes. And a co-author of Freakonomics and renowned economics professor at the University of Chicago, Steven D. Levitt, refers to research that suggests that more than 50% of people lie on their resumes.


These numbers seem high but they are covering a wide range of candidates. In our experience in high tech recruiting, the biggest resume issues are consistency, accuracy, dates, titles, technical skills, and degrees and certifications. The take-aways from Redfish Technology on resume integrity are:


Honesty is the best policy.

If there’s any question about honesty and integrity, the candidate will be passed on completely, and very likely blacklisted by companies in their applicant tracking systems.


Be consistent, accurate, and again, honest.

It is very easy to check on all aspects of what a candidate represents on a resume, whether it is by doing an internet search, perusing social media, or simply speaking with a candidate’s boss, direct reports, colleagues and associates. Recruiters take the time to check, so don’t be tempted to embellish.


Employment dates should not be fudged.

There are often very good reasons for gaps in employment that can be adequately addressed. If however a shortcut is taken and the dates are stretched to cover gaps, it is very likely that this will be discovered. Once discovered, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.


Certifications and degrees will be verified.

These are going to be checked, even if it is at the end of the hiring process. Some years back, we saw a candidate get an offer – contingent on references/background check like any offer – and it was discovered that she lied about her education. The school reported that she had not in fact graduated. She was not hired! And recall Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson’s fictitious degree in computer science degree from Stonehill College that got him fired. It will catch up with you.


Titles and title changes will be examined.

Sometimes people take a little creative license with their titles, enhancing them to make it appear that they are more experienced than perhaps is accurate. For example, someone who wants a Director title may change their title from Product Manager to Senior Product Manager. As well, we’ve seen Engineers change their titles to make it look like they are more client facing in an effort to move into a Sales Engineer role. Our recommendation is that you always use the correct title and then highlight client facing experience within the job accomplishments description. A title change can make a candidate appear sketchy.


Technical skills should be accurately represented.

Engineers are often asked to take a skills test, do on-site coding, or solve a problem. The goal is obviously to explore the depth of a candidate’s technical skills. If over-inflated skills were to somehow get by the vetting and testing process, be sure that it will be discovered and the consequences are grave.


Are you feeling cute?

Recent resumes have included the candidate’s height and another the candidate’s bowling score. Bowling scores are a cute addition to a resume. Cute is more or less appreciated by different people reviewing a resume, so when you want to be cute, make sure it fits with your audience.


Don’t do it!

So to summarize, don’t lie on your resume. And don’t be tempted to put lipstick on a pig!

Making superficial or cosmetic changes is a futile attempt to disguise the truth. Embellishments and misrepresentations will always be discovered and the consequences will be more than a blemish on your record.



About the Author:
Anna Mathieu, Marketing Communications Manager, brings together in-the-trenches recruiting experience as well as years of marketing and sales success in a variety of industries from software to real estate development. She thrives on evangelizing the Redfish brand and communicating Redfish’s expert recruiting services, to drive bottom line results.

Redfish Technology –
Building Growth-Mode Tech Companies with Hand-Picked Talent

Founded in Silicon Valley in 1996, Redfish Technology is a leading provider of high tech professional and executive talent. Partnering with growth mode companies, small and large, Redfish staffs executive functions and builds out the teams below. Redfish experts provide advice and perspective on hiring, career building, and job search – check us out on the web.