Resume Enhancement – Think Twice

Let’s face it; very few of us have truly reached the pinnacle of our careers.  Many have earned good educations, held responsible jobs, and been respected in a communities.  But there still may be (or we think there are) holes in our resumes.  It can be awfully tempting to “enhance” that resume to fill those holes and make ourselves more desirable to recruiters.  Some might call this “putting the right spin on your experience.”  In more extreme cases others might call it “lying.”

Let me be crystal clear, I do not advocate in any way or at any time lying on your resume.  Listing jobs, responsibilities, accomplishments, education, etc. on your resume that are not true and accurate is wrong and should not be tolerated.  If you hire someone who had blatant likes on his/her resume or application they should be terminated immediately for a lack of honesty. Never, never, never lie on your resume (or any other time for that matter).

That being said, there is also no reason to draw a red circle around every hole in your resume and intentionally bring those issues to that attention of every recruiter you talk to. Let’s try a simple example.  Say your job was eliminated from company X on February 4 and you found a new job with Company Y on November 24.  If you use the full dates in the Job History section of your resume it will be obvious to everyone that you were out of work of just over 9 months.  However, if you simply list the year on your resume the only thing that is obvious is that your changed jobs in 2009, but the gap disappears.  You’ll want to be honest about that gap if it comes up in an interview or when you complete an application, but there is no need to volunteer the information.

When constructing your job history, it’s okay not to list jobs that don’t fit your career objective.  If during the gap in previous paragraph you worked at McDonald’s because you needed income, you don’t need to list that on your resume, unless it supports your career objective.  You should include it on a formal application, but let it come up in the interview, rather than when your resume is being screened.  Similarly, if you’ve had lots of jobs (I’ve had 10 professional jobs since I graduated from college) there is no need to list all of them on your resume – unless they show a clear progression that supports your career objective.  Only list the most recent ones that best support the position you are applying for.

What I’m advocating some might consider simple common sense.  Make sure to include factual information that supports who you are and why you are the best candidate for a position.  At the same time, don’t include anything on your resume that does not support that same objective unless leaving it off will create more questions than including it.  Your resume is just that, your resume.  You get to decide the best way to present yourself.  You choose the format, the style, and the contents.  Choose the things that present you in the best possible light.

Honesty is clearly the best, and the only acceptable policy.  But, discretion may be the better part of valor.



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