Padding Resumes with Erroneous Information Can Result in Disaster

Jobseeker dishonesty could have serious repercussions, including termination.

With the recent hurricane disaster in New Orleans, there were many people who came under scrutiny. One such person was Michael Brown, the head of FEMA. People questioned his credentials and the media began to dig deep into his background.

In a recent Time Magazine article, here were some of the details that investigative journalists uncovered:

  • He claimed to be on the Board of Directors of a Nursing Home. When contacted by the media, the personnel at the nursing home had never heard of Brown.
  • He claimed to have been an Assistant City Manager of Edmond, Oklahoma. Brown never held this position. He did do an internship while attending college for this town.
  • He stated that he had received an "Outstanding Professor" award from a college where he never taught. He was an adjunct professor for a college, but the college never had such an award and he certainly did not receive one.
A survey that I recently read showed that about 75% of people "pad" their resume with credentials and position responsibilities they have never held. Many individuals stated that they enhanced their qualifications to be competitive.

The most common inflationary statements on resumes are job title and education. Some of my clients want me to change their job title to a more mainstream title, which is alright, as long as they list the real title in parentheses. Other candidates want to change their title to appear to have more experience than they possess, which I will not do.

Further, I will never allow my clients to misrepresent their educational background. There are other areas we can strengthen on the resume, such as industry-specific training, which may be of more value to an employer.

Approximately one year ago, there was a story on a popular new magazine television show that featured the story of a woman who was fired from a government job because she claimed to have a PhD. When colleagues were perplexed as to how a woman, who had no previous education, could suddenly have three degrees in a two-year time-frame, they questioned it. What they found out was that she had "paid" for her degrees through an on-line diploma mill.

Due to the onslaught on this type of behavior, many companies have been conducting more thorough background checks. Some companies, such as Chili's Restaurant, have an on-line application where you must detail accomplishments and then "back them up" with a person who can verify that accomplishment. Other companies are hiring outside background checking companies to verify information listed on resumes and applications.

Jobseekers need to understand the companies are serious about who they hire, especially for positions of great importance and responsibility. When writing a resume, the best policy is to be honest and forthright with your qualifications. If a candidate is dishonest, it will eventually catch up to them – whether in the initial hiring process or during their tenure with the company. If job seekers pad their experience or credentials, they could end up in a position where they will flounder and eventually be fired for incompetence.

Kathy Sweeney is the president of The Write Résumé, a Phoenix-based Resume Writing and Career Consulting Firm established in 1987. Ms. Sweeney is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and specializes in preparing job seekers at every level to maximize their ability to gain employment through the composition of effective career marketing documents and conducting personalized interview coaching sessions. To contact Ms. Sweeney, call 480-726-9052 or visit her website at www.awriteresume.com