You’re a Fibber – This is Why You Are Unemployed!

Recently, I interviewed someone for a position whose resume showed a lot of relevant experience for the position for which I am hiring.  There were a couple of things that I noticed about the resume though and I decided to ask the candidate about them.  First, there was no address on it.  The person had simply listed a city and town.  So I asked if the candidate lived there – they stumbled through their answer but ultimately stated that they didn’t, but could if they got the job.  In actuality the person lives about an hour a way (with no traffic) from my office.  This person was fibbing because they didn’t want me to rule them out based on their location.  Tricky!

The second thing I noticed is that the resume lacked any dates for the time spent at the various positions.  I brought this up and asked the candidate to walk me through their job history and provide me with an estimate of dates for each job. 

Tell the truth on your resume - don't be left looking like this!

They snatched, literally snatched, the pen out of my hand and started to write dates on the resume. By the end of it, I had found out that they haven’t been working since 2005 and had spent short time at many of the positions.  To make matters worse, they started flipping through their padfolio to find a different resume – which they did.  They gave it to me and the jobs on there were in a different order, with completely different dates for most jobs. 

So that was it!  Obviously, this candidate was exaggerating their resume to make their work history look better than it really was.  I understand that discrimination exists for the unemployed and people are resorting to such tactics to land an interview.  But the problem is, you look disingenuous when you get caught and it makes me wonder what else you could be exaggerating.  The truth is, based on their experience, no matter the dates or the short stints at a few jobs or even living an hour away, I still would have interviewed the person.  We could have had straightforward discussions about the commute or the work history and instead it turned in to the candidate telling fibs and half-truths to appear more favorable. 

Any skilled interviewer is going to go through your resume and see if they can poke any holes in what you have presented.  Don’t come out of it looking like swiss cheese.  Instead:

  • Be as honest as possible – if you get caught in a lie – it’s an automatic out
  • Rely on your actual experience
  • Use your cover letter to explain anything you think could hurt your chances  (“I’m looking to relocate to your area”, “I took the last two years off because I won the lottery and decided to travel the world.”)
  • Give us some credit – we understand that there are sometimes personal reasons for leaving the workforce for a few years, or that sometimes the job was not a good fit
  • Don’t snatch pens out your interviewer’s hand!

What other tips do my fellow recruiters have for those with potential blemishes on their resume?


About MikeSpinale
I'm a people and business partner, an employment brand ambassador, and a career advisor. I am an advocate of HR 2.0 - it's not about the personnel files - it's about bringing on the best talent, ensuring they're in the right seat, and keeping them motivated and growing in their careers. It's not about being the HR police - it's about giving managers the tools they need to effectively lead their teams to greater success. I love to travel, listening to NPR, political banter, social media, foreign languages, and the city of Boston.

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