Fudge the truthEveryone wants to look as good on paper as they know they are in real life, so some slight fudging on a resume is understandable, though not wise.
Out-and-out lying on your resume can be grounds for dismissal from a current position or can result in getting passed over for a job offer.
Interestingly, it's not a rare occurrence. A sizable number of job seekers are guilty of stretching the truth or fabricating credentials.
"We actually have a 56-percent discrepancy ratio between what someone puts on their resume and what we find when we go to do an education or employment verification," says Nick Fishman, chief marketing officer at employeescreenIQ, a background screening company.
A little fudging on salary or job dates is OK, but a lot of fudging can buy you walking papers, says Fishman.
An applicant who claims to have made $205,000 per year when in reality he earned $200,000 could be acceptable, he says. One who made $50,000 and claimed $150,000 will continue his job search.
Education is also a hot spot on resumes. The Internet has spawned a number of diploma mills where educationally challenged go-getters can order a degree. The companies have elaborate systems for verifying the degree to fool background checks.
Anyone with a computer and a phone could be tempted to set up a system to get by an unsuspecting employer.
One of Fishman's clients wanted to promote someone, and had to do a complete background check on the employee. Long story short, the employee claimed to be a graduate of the University of Maryland, but the university had no record of the employee. The employer checked with the employee, who then furnished a name, phone number and e-mail of someone at the university who could verify the degree. The employer called and everything checked out.
"After a month going back and forth, we did a trace on the domain that was given to them, and the person had set up the phone number and e-mail address on their own and registered it to themselves. They had directed the phone number and e-mail to someone that would verify the degree," says Fishman.
The employee was fired for lying. The worst part, Fishman says, is that this person wouldn't even have needed a degree for the promotion.
Be real regardless of the cultureNot every company is the right place for every worker. Corporate cultures vary from highly formal and regimented to laid back and creative.
If visible tattoos and brightly colored hair are an intrinsic part of your personality, then an uptight corporate setting probably won't be part of your career path.