It always pays to write a resume and cover letter that are as honest and straightforward as possible. Sometimes, however, job candidates feel like they need to resort to trickery in order to get to the next stage and land a job interview. Such trickery rarely works; recruiters and HR staffers have truly seen it all. Here are some things you’ll really want to avoid:
During the Great Recession, a lot of people were out of work for quite some time—years, in many cases. Unexpected events and medical emergencies can likewise knock you out of the workplace for far too long. Some resume-writers with a gap in their resume are tempted to leave dates off the document, in hopes that a recruiter or HR staffer somehow won’t question the absence. But dates aren’t just something you can delete: They send up a big red flag that something about the resume is off. If you have a gap in your resume, chances are you’ll have to deal with it at some point while hunting for a job. Prepare an explanation; don’t attempt to hide or otherwise misrepresent it.
Scott Thompson, the former CEO of Yahoo, had to leave the job after an activist shareholder firm alleged that he’d lied about his college degree. The allegations turned out to be true: Rather than the dual degree in accounting and computer science that Thompson claimed he’d earned from Stonehill College, he’d obtained “just” the accounting degree. The discrepancy was enough to cost Thompson the job, and if a CEO can go down for padding an education, so can pretty much anybody else. Be truthful about the degrees and certifications on your resume; a lot of companies will check those details out.
Excessive Resume Tailoring
While it’s important to tailor your resume to the position, you can also go overboard: If every detail and bullet-point on the resume seems customized to address specific things from the job description—to the point where even your college-interning experience seems like a lightly rewritten version of the job’s preferred qualifications—an HR staffer or recruiter won’t have an accurate view of your actual skills.