Lie On Your Resume? Not Smart!

 In Resumes and Cover Letters

Robin Anthony Toogood had a stellar career in education in the Washington, DC area.  He was a beloved principal until officials discovered that the claims on his resume were not true.  Instead of having a PhD, he was a college dropout.  For 15 years he lived a lie, but that all came to an end after a routine background check.

What is the moral of this story?  Lying on your resume is not smart.  Even if you appear to get away with it for awhile, it is likely that the truth will catch up with you at some point.

Mr. Toogood fell into a common trap.  He falsified his educational background.  Other common lies on resumes include misrepresenting dates to cover gaps in employment, claiming bigger job titles, and claiming sole responsibility for team achievements.

Job seekers often lie out of a feeling of desperation.  They feel that they cannot compete with the education and experience that they actually have, so they feel driven to pretend to have what they do not.

However, a lack of some qualifications does not necessarily mean that you are unemployable.  What it usually does mean though is that you have to be more creative in your job search methods and not rely on your qualifications alone.

Here are some ways that you can address some of the issues that job seekers often life about:

Lack of credentials. If you are looking for a job in a field where a degree is required and you don’t have it, spend the majority of your time networking in your field.  You are more likely to find success if you go through people that you know instead of responding to posted positions where you are probably going to be screened out by the HR department.

Gaps in employment. If you have been unemployed for six months or longer, you need to account for that time.  You can list volunteer work or contract work to show that you have been using your time productively.  And if you were in a situation where you had to take care of a sick family member, you can put that on the resume as well.

Job hopping. You may have had short stints in different companies, and this can give the impression that you have been job hopping.  One way to overcome this obstacle on the resume is to group positions together, especially if you were doing contract or temporary work where you were doing the same type of work but for different employers.

Achievements. Since most organizations put emphasis on teamwork, it is not a negative to state that your achievement was part of a team effort.  There is absolutely no need to embellish this.

Cheryl Palmer is a career expert who has regularly been quoted in The Ladders, the Wall Street Journal, CBS MoneyWatch, and CNN Money.  She is a career coach, resume writer, and LinkedIn expert.  Download 5 Master Strategies to Land a Job Through Social Media at

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