It’s not news that people lie on their resumes, and it can be an alluring option. With four to five people applying for every one job opening in the U.S., it may seem like a harmless way to get an extra leg up if you know you have what the job takes. Why not puff yourself up a bit to appear more impressive? After all, “everyone’s doing it” right?
“I make up resumes all the time,” a 28-year old South Boston local told me one night. “It’s easy—you make up your experience to match the job description, and ask a friend to be your ‘manager’ if they ask for a reference.”
Lately, I’ve found people may not necessarily lie on their resumes (obviously a big no-no, according to countless articles/employers/career advisors/moms), but instead stretch the truth to some pretty far-out limits.
What surprised me most when I questioned my peers about their application honesty was the attitude behind job seekers and friends who admitted they heavily padded their resumes or online profiles. (Note: this should not be confused with stating what you rightfully deserve credit for in any job/internship experience.)
“In any situation you’re going to make what you did at your internship sound more interesting than what you really did,” says *Heather Koo, a 21-year-old New York resident. I was met with a few more “well, DUH” statements as I interviewed sources. When asked why we lie, I was met with “It’s easy,” “to gain an added advantage,” or as Koo suggested, “to make ourselves feel better.”
Bullshit Culture Sneaks In
We’re all guilty of it. Be it a paper, a presentation, or answering Mom and Dad’s “where were you tonight?” we’ve all BS’ed a little here or there.
I’ll admit that bullshitting your way through something insignificant can sometimes be funny, but lying your way into a career?
I came across one such Bullshit generator that helps you “write like a pro,” allowing helpful tips by typing your boring job description in and clicking the magic “make bullshit” button. I typed in “made phone calls” and got “maximized efficient networks” (?).
I don’t need to tell you this is wrong, so let’s have some fun, shall we? I asked a few Millennials to decode their resume bullet points for me. The following were the most commonly executed:
There aren’t too many glamorous jobs out there that afford the luxury of having a real title attached to them, and job searchers naturally want to show they were valuable to a company. But taking a title simply because you feel you deserved it won’t always fly.
“I call it: ‘Cashier/Stock Associate’ at Wanamaker Hardware in Arlington. Could have been called: ‘Cashier’ but I did stock maybe twice,” said *Aaron Ralph (20) from Massachusetts.
*Tory Hall, 22, claims, “I worked at a startup as their (uses air quotes) ‘Social Media Strategist.’ I found articles that were interesting and just threw them out there.” (It should be noted that Hall is still unemployed and looking for a job in social media.)
Jargon-heavy Responsibility Descriptions
Ever read someone’s job description and ask, “Wait, so what did you do exactly?” For example if you saw “executed and maintained media presence through the use of various distribution channels,” would you imagine someone Tweeting every hour? Probably not.
“I’m not lying, just using fancy words,” says *Jessica Rogers (21) from New Jersey.
For example, Rogers claims she, “Assisted Executive Director of Sales Management, COO, CEO, and President with implementing specific advertising campaigns during a recruitment effort,” when really she “updated/redesigned the website and made recruiting brochures.”
“For a long time I had Peachtree Accounting Systems (an advanced accounting software) on my resume… even though I used it two times and ended up with a D in [my accounting class],” claimed Ralph.
Poor *Keith Anderson, a 27-year-old Supervisor at a Boston-based accounting firm, was on the receiving end of this kind of applicant, and said, “Every resume I’ve read coming from college career fairs say [applicants] are proficient in Microsoft based programs, but I had to sit down with interns and go through the process of deleting rows and sorting schedules on a daily basis. I was embarrassed for them.”
Make sure you at least have a basic knowledge of any software you’d like to claim on a resume. “I don’t have a problem training new staff and helping them out. Just not in an area I wouldn’t expect to teach them in.”