Breaking Resume Rules

Posted by Guest Contributor

10:00 AM

Recruiters and hiring professionals share some of the whoppers and doozies job seekers have tried to sneak into resumes over the years.

By Lisa Vaas



48-hour promotion
David Lewis, SPHR | Regional Manager
Express Employment Professionals

I once got two resumes a couple of days apart from the same candidate — (who was) applying for different jobs. The dates of employment and some of the areas of responsibility were changed in the second resume. And she must have had a promotion in the past 48 hours because the second resume showed a new manager title at her current job!

Me too
Didi Miesen | Former Recruiter
Snelling & Snelling (currently Snelling Staffing Services)

I not only interviewed countless people who lied on their resumes — I got the job because I'd lied on my resume... LOL ... and it wasn't the only time. Had I been honest about both my age and experience (or lack thereof, at the time), then I would never have been considered, never mind hired, for positions I knew I'd do well in and did.

Habla Espanol?
Christine Bolzan | CEO

Graduate Career Coaching

(Former VP in charge of Global Emerging Markets hiring for JP Morgan)

Specific examples I have witnessed include … stretching a one-day volunteer activity into a semester's worth of skill building and community involvement, (and) inflating language skills. I have started out interviews speaking in Spanish when the resume claims fluency only to discover that the individual never got beyond the basics and I lost them at "Hola."

10-credits shy
Sally Haver, Senior Vice President, Business Development
The Ayers Group/Career Partners International

It was one of our large investment-banking clients who sent us a candidate for our outplacement program. The person in question was a technology professional and a foreign national. Human resources discovered, quite by accident, that the employee had not received his bachelor's degree from a university, as he had listed on his resume. The truth was, he was 10 credits short of having earned his degree.

The company had a policy that if an employee had lied on his resume, the person had to be released. Everyone at the company was heartbroken, as this was a generally beloved employee, but they had to terminate his employment, according to the letter of the law.

Sharing the credit
David Couper | Transitions Coach

When I worked in Japan I reviewed the resume of one of our teachers who was teaching English at the company I worked at. He said that he went to Poole University (in the U.K.). Unfortunately, as I am English, I knew that there might be a Poole Community College but there was not a university. But he was a nice guy and a good teacher so I let it slip by!

I worked for a manufacturing company that was moving out of state so I helped a number of managers and supervisors polish their resumes. What was funny was that three people all had exactly the same accomplishment about designing and bringing a new product into production. It wasn't possible that they all led this project but that's what their resumes said!

Fake references
Barry Maher | Business Speaker
Barry Maher & Associates

(Some candidates) substitute the name of a company friend for that of their immediate superior. Call to check the reference and the friend tells you the candidate is a cross between Jack Welch and Mother Teresa. That's when the fun begins, especially if the candidate wasn't smart enough to send the friend a copy of the resume. The friend is willing to vouch for anything but they can never be completely sure of the fabricated details.

"So you can verify the candidate made $250,000 their last full year there?" I'll ask, looking at the line on the resume that claims he made $150,000.

"It was right around there," the friend says, thinking he's being cagey. "Maybe a few dollars more, a few dollars less, but in that ballpark."

I make up a couple more "facts" the friend is happy to swear to, and then move on to the next candidate.

No class
Marsh Sutherland | President
Walden Recruiting

I’ve had three placements in the past year and a half fall off due to candidates exaggerating their educational backgrounds. In all three placements the candidates indicated they had earned a m aster’s degree when they had not completed the program.

In one placement the candidate had earned a m aster’s certificate from a university in Canada and was continuing on with the m aster’s program, but his resume simply said “ M.S. in Software Engineering.” The hiring manager revoked the offer for demonstration of his exercising poor judgment. He was of Chinese origin so it might have been due to a language barrier.

Another candidate, who has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, received an offer from MITRE that was revoked. He indicated on his resume that he had earned a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees, but he was four credits shy of earning the second master’s degree. The hiring manager said this demonstrated a lack of integrity and education is very important to a research institution like MITRE.

Another candidate wrote on his resume that he earned a “B.S. in Electrical Engineering” at a university some 30 years ago, but didn’t mention he was only enrolled and didn’t complete it. Again the offer was revoked as a demonstration of lack of integrity.

Lisa Vaas covers resume writing techniques and the technology behind the job search for TheLadders.

Topics: Resume