Gary Martin: Many people are guilty of lying to get their dream job but there are some good reasons why you shouldn't
As thousands of Australians lose their jobs because of COVID-19, watch out for a disturbing and growing trend: stretching the truth to land the next job.
But with many desperate to secure their next position, when does a little resume padding morph into dishonesty?
The current job market — increasingly termed by some as “an era of de-recruitment” — will push some job hunters to become a little too creative in describing their capabilities and in covering up gaps in their resumes.
Resume spin — or inflating or making up accomplishments — is surprisingly common.
We might lie to get a job and, once there, continue to stretch the truth to look better than we really are, get out of things we don’t want to do and conceal our mistakes.
We use our liberal ways with the truth as social grease to fit in with the boss and colleagues and even to take credit for work that is not ours.
Experts agree that even when the job market is buoyant, around half of all applicants for roles bend the truth in some shape or form on their resumes to increase their chances of winning a role.
This includes inflating former job titles, lying about having a qualification and making false claims around second-language proficiency and past salaries.
But it is bogus claims around our technical capabilities that often ring alarm bells for recruiters and prompt them to take a closer look and dig deeper.
There is the former cashier whose embellished resume stated her main role was “supervision of financial transactions”, the telephone receptionist who described his job as a “console communications specialist” and the former colleague who claimed his role was “training others in technology”, despite his capabilities limiting him to unjamming the photocopier and showing co-workers how to use the office coffee machine.
Those who are updating the resume either to bolster their job security or to secure a new position should remember that honesty remains the best policy, not least because employers have become expert lie detectors.
Employers are increasingly skilled in probing vague statements, discovering inconsistencies and seeing through “noisy” language, all which can portray a resume as containing more fiction than fact.
Recruiters know that the more we stretch the truth the easier it gets and the more likely we are to do it again and again, including once employed. That is why spreading things on thick on a resume is unwise. Once untruthfulness is discovered, a candidate’s credibility plunges.
And for those who have lost their job and are increasingly concerned with an employment gap on their resume, the advice is simple: don’t try to cover it up.
Any employer worth working for will recognise that a gap on a resume can say more about the times we find ourselves in than your worth as a prospective employee.