As a child of honest, working class parents, I was taught to always tell the truth. However, every rule has its exception. If my mother hated a friend’s new hairstyle or dress, she would nevertheless gush that she loved it. Once the lady was out of earshot, my mom explained that her “little white lies” were a minor subterfuge designed to prevent others from being hurt. It wasn’t long before I’d realized that “others” could well include the very person spinning the small fabrications! If you invest your time and energy in a job search, you would do well to apply my mother’s philosophy about petty deceits when creating your resume. Here’s how to do that:
1. No employer seeking the most qualified talent wants to read lies on a resume. But neither do they want to read so much data that they lose interest. In light of this, you should carefully cull the information that appears on your resume. As a general guideline, an employer’s greatest concern is with your most recent and pertinent information, not what you’d accomplished twenty years ago.
2. Can you invent achievements if, in fact, you have none? Yes, you can — to a certain degree. If you were not the company’s mover and shaker spearheading and driving projects, perhaps you participated in those initiatives. If so, it is not only acceptable, it is beneficial for you to state that you contributed to a project that, for example, reduced costs by 8% or improved turn-around time for financial reports by four days.
3. If you are in the opposite category, in which definitive statistics are linked directly to your performance, select those that you wish to list on your resume. Painting you as too good to be true, numerous achievements can give the appearance of mistruths. Determine which figures will carry the most weight and highlight those.
4. And what if the execution of your duties was neither stellar nor lackluster? Statements such as “Served as one of the leading team members” or “Ranked as the 3rd highest performer” are, like Baby Bear’s porridge in the tale of Goldilocks, just right. Illustrating your contributions, they provide the hiring manager with just enough information to peak his interest.
5. Curb Your Enthusiasm is the name of a television show, not sound advice concerning the preparation of your resume. The probability is high that, sometime during your career, there was a job that you wish you’d never held. Rather than write something negative, find a way to describe that job as if it was a wonderful opportunity or at the very least, an experience through which you learned a skill or a process useful in your next position. A positive attitude goes a long way in opening doors to new opportunities; negativity only shuts those doors against you.