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Lying on Your Resume

Part 1: Should You Lie on Your Resume?



Do you always want to worry about them learning the truth?

Peter Glass / Photographer's Choice RF / Getty Images

You read the help wanted ad and the job seems perfect for you. You seem perfect for it too. You've got all the qualifications they're asking for. Oh wait. What does that say? Hmmm. They want someone who has experience with that. "Well, I can do that," you think to yourself. "I just haven't done it before. But, I'm sure I can learn."

Most of us have had thoughts like this float through our minds. However, each of us may choose a different course of action. Let's take a few examples:

Job Searcher #1 says: "Oh well. I guess I don't qualify for this job." He or she moves onto the next help wanted ad.

Job Searcher #2 says: "O.K., so I don't have the experience they're asking for. I can just make something up. After all the last company I worked for isn't in business anymore. This new one will never find out what I did or didn't do there." Job Searcher #2 is just a few keystrokes away from adding fictional responsibilities to his or her resume.

Job Searcher #3 says: "It's obvious I don't have the experience they want but I do know I can easily pick up the skills I need to do the job. The only thing I can do is take a chance and apply for the job anyway. I'll use my cover letter to explain that I don't have the required skills but I am willing to do whatever is necessary to acquire them. I'll explain that I do have related skills. What have I got to lose anyway?"

Job Searcher #3, as you may have already guessed, has made the wisest choice. Job Searcher #1 may be missing a great opportunity. Even though he lacks the necessary skills, he may have related skills. He should assess those skills, even listing what they are and how he acquired them. He can then write a cover letter that shows his potential, as Job Searcher #3 did. The worst that can happen is that his resume will end up in that big circular file. The best that can happen is that the prospective employer will see the potential in this applicant and decide that experience isn't as important as initiative.

Who's the loser? Job Searcher #2 of course. Liar, liar pants on fire. Lying is never a good idea. You may feel it's not morally wrong to lie, and perhaps a little white lie isn't thatbad. However, calling in sick is a little different than making believe you're someone you're not. Lies have a way of snowballing. It's kind of like eating potato chips — you can't stop with just one.

Part 2: One Lie Leads to Another
Part 3: Ramifications of Lying

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