Rochester NY Stake Employment Center

December 3, 2011

How to Avoid Exaggerating In Your Resume

Filed under: Resume Writing — Larry @ 11:22 am

By Heather Eagar

When you’re drafting a resume, it is tempting to stretch the truth some so that you appear to be more impressive than maybe your skills might indicate. However, while there is such a thing as packaging your resume in a smart way, choosing words that tell the truth, yet sound sensational, for example, you want to avoid flat-out exaggerating.

So, how can you avoid crossing the fine line from smart resume packaging to exaggeration? Here are a few ideas to consider:….

Choose Creative Ways to Describe Your Skills and Accomplishments
It’s one thing to choose a creative way to describe what you’ve accomplished in prior positions; fudging the truth is another matter altogether. If you are able to find creative words for what you’ve actually done, you’re considered a smart cookie. However, if you fudge the truth and tell a story that didn’t happen, you’re considered a liar.

It’s very important that you carefully choose what you write in your resume because everything can be tracked. So if you tell an employer that you managed 10 employees in a packing department, when in actuality you managed handing out daily assignments drawn up by the real manager of the packing department, you could find yourself in deep trouble for fudging the truth. Using action words like managed, oversaw, developed and arranged are good ways to make small tasks look bigger, as long as using them doesn’t result in a lie.

Get Used to Telling the Truth
How do you find the happy medium between exaggerating and underselling yourself? The best way is to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. For instance, if you’ve managed an average of 50 calls per day, successfully routing them to the appropriate party via the company’s complex phone system, yet on your resume, you write that you were "in charge of answering phones," you’re only telling a half-truth.

Of course, you don’t want to say that you developed the intricate phone system yourself because that would be an outright lie. So what’s a happy medium? Tell them that you "managed an average of 50 calls per day, successfully routing them to the appropriate party via the company’s complex phone system." Do you see how that works? You were much more specific about what you did and were able to tell the truth, making your accomplishment much more impressive without having to lie.

Use Your Cover Letter to Back You Up
If you feel that you simply do not have enough experience to make a hard sell in your resume without exaggerating, use your cover letter as a way to tell your stories in detail.

Since resumes only leave room for one- and two-liners, they can feel restrictive. By using your cover letter to better describe your experience, you can help to make up for what your resume lacks.

You don’t want to get into the habit of stretching the truth in your job applications. One little "white lie" can come back to bite you in a big way. Instead, find ways to creatively tell the truth about your accomplishments. No matter how small you think they are, they are yours and you should be proud of them.

Monroe County Dept. of Human Services Job Search Companion June 2011

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