Careers & Job Skills
The Most Common Lies in Canadian Resumes
Written by Workopolis
As we are now living in an era of fake news and alternative facts, we thought we’d ask the question: is everything on your resume 100% accurate?
Most employers don’t think so. They are becoming increasingly sceptical of what candidates claim about their skills and work history. In fact, a survey by the recruitment firm Employment Office found that over 80 per cent of employers believe that candidates are lying on their LinkedIn profiles.
Sixty-seven per cent of the 300 hiring managers and business owners surveyed said that candidates are most likely to lie about their past job titles and responsibilities. The other major areas where they feel people are most likely to fudge the truth are about the exact dates of previous employment, their education, and their qualifications.
So we asked Workopolis recruiters and members of the HR community where they find the most common resume half-truths, exaggerations, and lies. Here’s what they said were the most widespread falsehoods in Canadian resumes:
Education – HR managers surveyed said that many people claim to have obtained a degree, even before they have completed the program. If you’re in school, it’s important to say so.
Employment dates – People often fudge the dates of their previous employment to exaggerate their tenure in a role (or mask periods of unemployment in between jobs).
Second language proficiency – Candidates with a conversational knowledge of a second language often claim to have native fluency.
Job titles – People will often tweak job titles. They do this to match the role they’re applying to, or because they think their actual title undersells their contributions.
Technical skills – This is the most insidious lie as it is the least likely to be caught in the screening process. A hiring manager, after all, will most likely not ask a reference if you actually do know HTML5. However if you get hired for a role that requires that skill, you’re going to land in hot water when you’re expected to actually use it on the job.
This last point brings up an interesting question:
How do people get caught lying on their resumes?
The funny thing about lying on your resume is just how easy it is to be discovered. All the hiring manager has to do is ask your references the right questions, and the jig is up. Sure, many companies have policies on providing information about past employees. However, most HR departments will corroborate your job title, how long you worked there, and what your salary was.
So, despite the temptation to make yourself look better and give yourself an edge over the competition, lying about your skills and experience on a resume (or LinkedIn profile) just isn’t worth it. Even a quick phone call to past employer can blow your cover. And exaggerated technical skill or language proficiency will quickly come to light on the job.
There may, however, be some “white lies” you can use while job searching that can actually help you get the job.
Omitting bad work experiences. If you’ve worked at a job that ended in a way that can hurt your future chances (fired for cause, extremely short tenure, etc.), leave it off your resume altogether. While tailoring your resume to the application, list only the most relevant jobs (where your skills or achievements can help future employers). Remember, your resume is a document marketing your credentials; it doesn’t have to be a comprehensive list of everything you’re ever done.
“I got along well with my boss and my co-workers.” Nobody likes everyone, and there are some truly terrible bosses out there. However, even if your co-workers were a bunch of jerks, saying so during a job interview will sink your chances of getting hired. It is essential that employers see you as friendly, positive team player. Slamming your old boss will only make you look like a complainer, and have them wondering what you’ll be saying about them next.
“My greatest weakness is…” This is not the time to say, “I’m a perfectionist who works too hard.” That’s not a lie, it’s a cliché that will only annoy your interviewer. If you’re out of ideas, invent an innocuous weakness that sounds plausible but doesn’t impact your ability to do the job at hand. Then explain how you’re working on improving the situation. This shows that you are proactive, self-aware, and willing to learn.
This 1 Resume Change Can Get You More Interviews
Written by Ozzie Saunds
Recruiters read each resume for an average of 10 seconds. How can you keep them from casting yours aside?
Think of the top of your resume as the start of a great James Bond movie. Don’t they usually start with a high-impact (and often highly unbelievable), exciting scene? It’s a way to grab attention right from the start and make sure that people stay in their seats until the end credits. I’m not asking you to start doing your own stunts (and to start taking on international spies), but it’s important to keep this idea in mind when you’re writing your resume. The people you’re dealing with have tight schedules and short attention spans; do what you can to get their attention right off the bat.
To get your reader engaged with what you have to offer, begin your resume with a powerful and unique value proposition statement. This one change can make an immediate impact in the number of interviews you land.
Replace your objective statement with a professional profile
It might sound unsettling, but think of yourself as a product. You have to sell it (you). Your professional profile is your value proposition statement, the place where you clarify, right from the start, what it is you can bring to the table.
Most objective statements are not effective in communicating the skills, experience, and qualities of job applicants. Instead of suggesting the value of the potential employee, they tend to communicate personal goals. Starting your resume off with what you have to offer, instead of what you want to receive or achieve, makes you come across as a much stronger candidate, and will win you more interviews.
Not sure how to write a great professional profile?
Here’s an example of a professional profile / value proposition
Here is an example of a statement that discusses the value you can bring to prospective employers.
Management professional with more than 10 years of experience in leadership, sales, and customer service. Self-motivated with prior success building and leading high-performance organizations. Generated $1 million in revenue within the Ontario region by both increasing sales within the existing client base and bringing in new business from referrals. Highly collaborative team leader inspiring superior performance by developing, coaching, and mentoring employees. Visionary change agent with a consistent record of transforming challenges into expansive business opportunities.
When it comes to length, a paragraph like this is ideal, but remember to only focus on relevant information. You don’t want to pad this section with filler. Bond, after all, doesn’t stop for a drink when he’s in the middle of a car chase to start the movie.
Where possible, it’s also a good idea to use numbers and data. Doing so can instantly make an achievement more memorable and impressive (e.g. “Increased web traffic by 25% vs increased web traffic.”)
Spending some time to make this one change to your resume could result in significantly more interviews. You need to get your reader hooked until they have read every last word about what you have to offer. The more your resume gets read the more your phone is likely to ring, with a job offer waiting for you on the other end.