Many consider lying to be one of the most natural things humans learn while growing up. Most of the times we lie to protect ourselves, or get something we want; over time, a lying does not evoke the sense of dilemma and introspection that philosophers spent their lives understanding. In today’s world, the nature and repercussions of our lies have changed too – we lie about our knowledge, our opinion, our achievements, and most of all perhaps, our sense of identity and world. One might argue that lying about these things to friends and family is a victimless crime (not really, if the intention is to establish your superiority); but when this lying spills over into your professional life, the biggest victim is also the most unexpected one: YOU.
A recent survey from CareerBuilder shows that almost 75% of HR managers have managed to catch a lie on a resume. What’s more – your longing to ‘stand out’ from the crowd and do something downright outrageous or claim something extraordinary as your achievement, will not really increase your chances of selection, as only 12% of HR manages are likely to consider you after the same. There’s more gloom in news for the quintessential job seeker: the hours you spend in perfecting and editing your resume might seem a lot when compared to the time it is viewed: less than a minute (39%) and sometimes less than 30 seconds (19%) – meaning that the pressure to prove yourself from the first second is extraordinarily high. But when you go too far, the results are obvious.
The survey quizzed 2,575 hiring and human resource managers from USA between May and June, 2017 and asked them about resume reading habits, interview etiquette, mistakes candidates make etc. They were also asked about some of the most memorable blunders candidates have committed. Here is a list of the most outrageous mistakes, which have been quoted verbatim, candidates have made on their resumes, according to the HR managers who were a part of the survey:
- An applicant claimed to have written computer code the hiring manager had actually written. Both had the same previous job, but the applicant did not know that fact.
- Applicant included a picture with all of his pets.
- Applicant said he worked for Microsoft but had no idea who Bill Gates was.
- Applicant's resume was lifted from the Internet, did not match the cover letter.
- Applicant said he studied under Nietzsche.
- Applicant stated that he had tried and failed a certification exam three times, but was planning to try again.
- Applicant claimed to be an anti-terrorist spy for the CIA at the same time period he was in elementary school.
- Applicant falsely claimed to have a PMI credential when applying for a job at PMI (the organization that grants that credential).
- Applicant included a description about his family.
- Applicant mentioned that his hobby is to watch horror movies.
However, along with these gaffes, the survey also collected ways to improve your chances of being selected. The simple steps of customising your resume according to the position (60%), including a cover letter (38%) and listing your skills first (37%) will make a great difference according to the survey. Furthermore, when it comes to ‘standing out’ you can do many things to achieve the same without lying or being ambiguous to brighten your prospects: being involved in community (35%) and being bilingual (34%) to name a few.
Rosemary Haefner, CHRO, CareerBuilder, gives some valuable advice as well, “If crafted well, your resume is one of the most valuable marketing tools you have... In a matter of seconds, it can make or break your chances of moving along the hiring journey with a company. That's why it's important to be proactive with your resume and avoid embellishments or mistakes. Take advantage of the tools available to you — the worst thing you can do is send a generic copy out to employers and then sit and hope for a response."
In other words, you may not agree with Immanuel Kant’s stance on lying, but you should follow it in the professional world, especially when drafting a resume or during an interview – because sooner or later, the lie will blow up and claim you as its victim.