Is Your Resume Honest?
By: AJE Recruiting Specialist
The resume is a crucial component during the job search. In today's tougher and more competitive job market, many job seekers are confused about what to include and what to eliminate when writing their resume. Some try to embellish, making themselves appear to be the best candidates for the position they are striving for, while others find that they have to "dumb" their resumes down, leaving out information that may make them appear overqualified.
Fabricating information on a resume is unethical, but what about exclusion of information from a resume? Many people agree that leaving information out is just as dishonest as putting false information in, while others view it as simply doing what needs to be done to get the job. There are, however, some techniques for keeping your resume as accurate as possible to satisfy both instances.
What information are job seekers leaving out of their resumes, exactly? A common exclusion is college graduation dates. This is a way of hiding how long the potential employee has actually been in the work force since the completion of his or her education. Excluding graduation dates can be more disadvantageous than including, as hiring managers will question the deletion.
What about education? There have been instances where a master's degree or PhD is left out of a resume, again, so that the job seeker in question doesn't appear overqualified. As with dates of graduation, educational background should be included too.
Finally, job titles are often underplayed; "General Managers" become "Manufacturing Managers," and a "Vice President of Marketing" is lowered to "Director of Marketing."
If years and years of education and hard work are required to reach these positions, why are job seekers so eager to abandon their lofty, but deserved, positions, when writing their resume? It all comes down to survival, even if it results in the forced satisfaction of a lower salary or a position.
The best approach in these instances is to make the primary focus of your resume your skills and qualifications, rather than your work history, education, salary information, etc. Organize it so that an employer sees what you are capable of doing before they see what you have done, and makes assumption about how much you were being paid. Customize your resume and cover letter for each specific job, making sure to emphasize the skills that you know each individual employer will find most important.
If leaving out information is still a necessity do it very cautiously. Making a small change in phrasing of past job titles won't hurt, but only if you don't have business cards with your original title printed on them already. Removing work history more recently than 15 years past is also frowned upon, and employers can quickly fill in the gaps with reference checks if he or she so chooses.
As many out-of-work employees struggle to find jobs, the temptation to "settle for less" becomes stronger and stronger. Toning down your resume to appear more attractive to employers is ethical, if done correctly, but keep in mind, some hiring managers will consider the blatant exclusion of information just as serious an offense as the fabrication of qualifications or experience.