On the train the other day, I overheard one rider asking another if it was OK to fib a little—or at least embellish the truth—on a resume. As the train rattled quickly and loudly to my stop, I missed the response, but I couldn't stop thinking about the question.
Lying on a resume isn't illegal, but it's certainly unethical and grounds for dismissal for those who get caught—not to mention embarrassing for the companies that hired them. The tech sector hasn't been immune to resume scandals. The resume flap last year concerning the credentials of Scott Thompson, ex-CEO of Yahoo, certainly didn't help the company's image.
How honest are most IT pros about their credentials?
Stretching the truth is common, according to a recent survey conducted by TEKsystems. The technology staffing firm found that 63 percent of IT professionals and 77 percent of IT leaders said most IT resumes exaggerate job seekers' work experience. What's more, 35 percent of IT leaders and 39 percent of IT pros say most IT resumes contain "outright lies," the study showed.
The lies concern their technical experience and abilities, false or dated certifications, and exaggeration on their roles at past and present jobs, Rachel Russell, TEKsystems director, told eWEEK in an email.
Russell's note included the following bullet points on how job hunters can clean up their resumes:
--"Avoid misrepresentation by not just listing technical skills—describe how you used the skill through the projects you supported and the impact you made on the business."
--"Provide references that can provide insight on your technical abilities and non-technical abilities, like communication skills, management skills, etc."
--"Use the language that shows initiative (i.e., 'took initiative to') and describe how you solved an issue/challenge."
While you're at it, leave off the fluff and eliminate the irrelevant. A resume riddled with useless catchphrases—in lieu of strong keywords representing job hunters' skills and how they've applied them—doesn't help the job seeker, the recruiter or prospective employers.
The TEKsystems study found that 78 percent of IT leaders and 64 percent of IT pros agreed with the statement: "Many IT resumes include buzzwords that are actually irrelevant to the person's true experience."
Here's another reason to weigh your words when writing a resume. Long before recruiters, HR professionals and hiring managers see most resumes, they go through automated tracking systems—special software for ferreting out relevant keywords. But don't try to game the system. Use keywords honestly.
For job hunters with all levels of experience, tips on how to put together an effective resume are plentiful on career Websites, at bookstores, and from your favorite business magazines as well as other sources.
I wonder if the resume writer on the train found a way to present his skills clearly and truthfully, and how his job hunt is going. I hope that someone advises him to be creative in his job hunt but to be honest. Integrity counts.