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Resume lies you can't get away with

By Rosemary Haefner
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( -- There's marketing yourself on your resume, and then there's flat-out lying.

Many job seekers are crossing the line.

Although just 5 percent of workers actually admit to fibbing on their resumes, 57 percent of hiring managers say they have caught a lie on a candidate's application, according to a survey.

Of the hiring managers who caught a lie, 93 percent didn't hire the candidate.

When resume inconsistencies surface during background checks, they raise concerns about the candidates' overall ethics. Forty-three percent of hiring managers say they would automatically dismiss a candidate who fibbed on their resume. The rest say it depends on the candidate and situation.

Stretched dates to cover up employment gaps is the most commonly-caught resume lie, with nearly one-in-five hiring managers saying they have noticed this on a candidate's application.

Other top resume inconsistencies include lies about:

Past employers (18 percent)

Academic degrees and institutions (16 percent)

Technical skills and certifications (15 percent)

Accomplishments (8 percent)

Reasons for lying range from innocuous (not being sure of the exact employment dates) to unethical (intentionally being deceitful to get the job). To ensure your resume is accurate but still portrays you in the best light, heed these tips:

If you don't have much formal experience...

Highlight any activities or coursework that could be relevant to the position. Volunteer activities, part-time jobs and class projects can all provide transferable skills and training.

If you didn't quite finish your degree...

Do not indicate on your resume that you graduated. Instead, name the university and list the years in which you attended.

If you were out of work...

Don't stretch the employment dates to cover the gap. Instead, keep the dates accurate and address the gap in your cover letter. Be sure to mention any classes you took or volunteer work you performed during this time to keep your skills up-to-date.

If your company uses unfamiliar titles...

This is one of the only circumstances in which it's acceptable to change your title to something more recognizable.

For example if your title was "primary contact," and you performed the duties of an administrative assistant, you can clarify your title by writing "Primary Contact/Administrative Assistant." Giving yourself a promotion to "office manager," however, crosses the ethical line.

Rosemary Haefner is the Vice President of Human Resources for She is an expert in recruitment trends and tactics, job seeker behavior, workplace issues, employee attitudes and HR initiatives.

© Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority

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