Impressive CV… Perhaps a Little Too Impressive

Posted by | September 22, 2014 | Blog | No Comments

Honesty is the best policy. When you’re an adult it’s no cliché, it’s the truth.


Let Your Truth Speak for Itself

You want your CV to be impressive. You want to have that WOW factor. Whether it’s your education or your experience that stands out, you want your potential employer to look at your CV, and say “This is our guy. We don’t need to look at anybody else.” So let your truth speak for itself. Because whether you believe it or not, you’ve actually done some great things.

You can certainly enhance your experience; there are creative keywords you can use to describe who you are and what you’ve done. You can call yourself a Custodial Engineer. And you can call yourself a Sanitation Coordinator. But at some point you’re going to have talk about how well you mopped up and took out the garbage. And we will get into that in a future blog post. But for now, let’s keep it real. And that means… don’t lie.

I get why people do. Especially if they’ve been in the job market for what can sometimes seem like a long time. But I never realized just how much they lie on their résumés until I started helping people write them.


Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave…

I worked with one client, for example, who insisted that we list his Bachelor’s Degree on his CV. The problem was that he didn’t actually have one. As the paying client, he demanded that I just do what he wanted me to do, which is, on one hand, what he was paying me for. On the other hand, you come to me for my expertise. You pay me to get your foot in the door. And I can’t do that if I know that you are being less than truthful in a document that’s intended to tell the truth about you. How can I recommend you to potential employers if I know that you have lied?

There’s nothing wrong with a little creative enhancement. But you have to be able to back it up. If you can’t, then you’re in for a world of trouble. Can you picture the interview?

Boss:I see you have a degree in Management from Purdue. I also went to Purdue. What was your favourite course?

You:Uh. Mind your own business, sir.

Boss:Excuse me?!

You:That was the course title, sir. Mind Your Own Business. It was, uh, about going into business for yourself. Great course.

Boss:Oh, okay. Who was the professor?

At this point you’ve no doubt shouted “Oh my God, look over there!” and run out of the room. And a good thing, too. Because there is no way you would have gotten that job.

Another client phoned me some time after we’d finished putting together her CV. She called to confess that she’d been a little less than truthful with me. In her case, and on the advice of her husband, she’d omitted a lesser position she’d had to take when her pregnancy necessitated that she leave her actual post. Her husband felt that keeping it in would somehow make her look weak.

“I was pregnant,” she said. “What would I have said in the interview?”

“That you were pregnant,” I said, “and that you had to take mat leave.”


Accentuate the Positive

Tell the truth. If you get caught in a lie, then you won’t get the job. And if the truth doesn’t get you the job, then you need to move on, and focus on what will get you the next one. Accent the positive. Don’t worry about what you don’t have, and think of creative ways to enhance what you do have. If you have the education, then we’ll put it at the top. If you don’t, then we’ll focus on your experience, and add in a Professional Development heading toward the bottom. If you haven’t been to the moon, then don’t say that you have. But if you’ve successfully completed team-building exercises, or if you’ve learned some new skills on the job, then we’ll highlight that.

Look, it’s your resume. But if you ask me to put things in it that are against my judgement, I will council you to do otherwise.

I want you to get that job. And that’s the truth.
*from I’m An Adult Now; The Pursuit of Happiness, 1986

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