Jennette Ballas and Aliza Elbert

Dilemma: I used to be the utilities manager for a local business and when applying for a summer internship I slightly stretched the truth of my responsibilities on my resume, making them seem more related to the desired accounting position than they actually were. Will they really find out and what could happen if they did? “Ashley J.

A solid resume will get you in the door. But if you lie on a resume, don’t let the door hit you on the way out! These days too many people cross the line between persuasive marketing and blatant lying. Believe it or not, 35 percent of job seekers have lied or stretched the truth on their resumes.

Many make the mistake of thinking that puffery will improve their chances in getting their dream job or they’ll state false claims because they lack self-confidence. Yet, very few have something to hide.

“Lies usually shake out during the interviews,” said Jim Barnhill, an executive senior partner specializing in human resources recruitment for the Lucas Group in Atlanta. “If you don’t have the experience, you can’t speak intelligently about the topic.”

Lying on your resume holds greater risk than not landing the job and even potentially being fired. According to Barnhill, “As you advance in your field, it quickly becomes a small world, and top people know each other. If you lie on your resume this will damage your reputation and harm your future prospects.”

Initial recruiting decisions are often made in a matter of seconds and those candidates that lack the essential key words or titles on their resume will be crumpled and used for tissue. With this in mind, many fear rejection and resort to bogus claims. Believe it or not, employers really don’t care who your daddy is, that you were classroom monitor in the fifth grade, or that you lasted almost a week as a candy-striper at St. Jude Hospital. You need to make sure your claims are relevant and accurate.Recruiters have vested interests in their prospects, therefore wanting honest and trustworthy employees. Companies filling high-level jobs will routinely make background checks including claimed degrees, honors and references. Furthermore, about 71 percent of resumes misrepresent the number of years people have worked on a job, said Jeff Christian, chairman of the search firm Christian & Timbers.

In Philadelphia, RadioShack CEO David Edmondson resigned and admitted to “clearly” misstating his academic record on his resume and on the company’s Web site. Another example is the former Notre Dame football coach, George O’Leary, who was forced to resign his $1.2 million salary in 2001 when it was announced that he had grossly overstated his past accomplishments. So don’t think you’re home free just because you’ve already been hired. Now don’t stress. There are solutions to close the gaps in experience and education. If you don’t have a required degree or experience, get it. You may not obtain the current job, but there’s always something else to look forward to in the future. As a tip, don’t include a reason for leaving if you were fired. That may come out during a reference check anyway, so why bring it up ahead of time? Instead, focus on your highest achievements and how those will benefit the company.

Writing a good resume takes some skill, time and practice. A word to the wise:  Keep your resume short, to the point and honest. Don’t hesitate to utilize your campus’ resume building workshops that are listed below. Here are Cal Poly’s:

Two Quarterly Resume Workshops- students are given resume tips, samples and an overview of an effective resume and cover letter.

Quarterly Resume Clinics- students can bring resume rough drafts and have a counselor give feedback (Usually held before each job fair)

Drop-In Counseling- students can stop by Monday through Friday from 1-3 p.m. to have their resume/cover letter reviewed by a counselor.  Individual counselors also have their own drop-in hours. Students can call 756-2501 for more information.

Individual Appointments- students can schedule an appointment with the Career Services Counselor assigned to their College for resume/cover letter questions and assistance.

Career Services Web site –  Students can check out samples and resume information on the “student” section.  Click on “resumes and tools.”

The Bottom Line: Amend any fibs you may have now and don’t repeat similar overstatements, errors or omissions in the future. Just stick to the truth. It’s easier to remember!

Aliza Elbert and Jennette Ballas are both marketing concentrations with a knack for changing the world-one ethical dilemma at a time. This article is written on behalf of SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) with a goal of teaching others about business ethics. Please provide a rating below of how useful our article was. It helps us measure effectiveness.

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