Photo by Tony Case
Lying on a resume is one of the worst things that a person can do for their careers. Many resumes are fact-checked before an employee is hired; keeping the ones who lie away from the jobs they seek. Even after a person has been hired, finding a lie on a resume is often grounds for dismissal. So, what to do when your resume is lacking and you don’t want to lie? Embellishment is an art form that can bridge the gap between a lack of experience and the job you want.
Since you won’t be inventing any experience that you really don’t have, you have to play up the experience you do have. Sometimes ordinary tasks are really much more than they sound like in conversation. Even low-level employees are given tasks that are based on trust and responsibility, ands those can be played up without ever being untruthful.
If you have experience working with the public, this gives you a wealth of material to embellish. Working with the public requires a number of interpersonal and communications skills that are important to any business. Instead of “worked at the counter” or “rang up sales,” play up the skills it took to do what you did. You communicated with the public, you solved customer problems, you made sales, you upsold products by communicating to the customer the various options available to them, etc. These are all skills that are useful in many different fields.
If your educations credentials leave a little to be desired, you can play up what you actually studied instead of how many years you studied. If you didn’t quite graduate from college, go into detail about the subjects you studied that could be helpful in the job you’re seeking. If you have a degree in a field that isn’t applicable, play up the classes that were. For instance, a person seeking a sales job won’t be helped much by their botany degree, but they may be helped by mentioning that they studied psychology and sociology, both subjects that can help in relating to customers. Find something, somewhere that you studied that might be useful to a prospective employer. By playing up that instead of the degree field, you can make your educational credentials sound perfect without ever lying.
Think about the many skills you’ve picked up away from the job. You probably have a number of talents and credentials that aren’t related to former jobs but that can help to build your resume. If you’ve ever served on a local committee, that’s an organizational credential that you can use to your advantage. Any volunteer work in your past can show your initiative as well as special skills. If you’ve ever served as an officer of a sorority or fraternity, helped to organize a charity drive or helped arrange a large meeting, you have skills that should be played up on your resume. Use action words and details to make these skills sound relevant and you may just impress an employer.
Jason Kay is a professional resume writer and owner of JobGoRound.com, a career advice website that provides practical guidelines for every phase of the job search cycle. He is a regular contributor to many top job search websites on topics such as resume writing, interviewing, and workplace issues. He lives in Broomfield where he enjoys hiking, mountain biking, and photography.