Are White Lies Acceptable in Your Resume?

Are White Lies Acceptable in Your Resume?

By: Daniel Steingold | May 12, 2016

Pretty much everyone tells white lies, but everyone engages in them in different situations. Some might tell their partner or friends a narrative that is slightly untrue in order to prevent a further argument. Others may lie to themselves to prevent self-examination or to calm their conscience.

And unfortunately, many lie during the job interview process. There are often good reasons for not being completely honest about your past and qualifications– but this does not make it right.

With background checks, cross-references, and other tools, you may be weeded out before you are able to progress further in the interview process. If your potential employer doesn’t find out initially, there is a good chance they will eventually, and this may end up costing you your job.

This article will highlight ways to be honest about potentially checkered parts of your past, while still maximizing your chances of getting the job.

Experience and Education

The reason why it’s important to never lie about experience and education is simple: they can be verified via third-party sources. Background checks are conducted by many, if not most, employers and they show additional criteria, including salary history, criminal records, credit scores, professional licenses and designations, and references.

If you lie about or intentionally withhold material information, there can be legal consequences. The employer may even be able to sue to recover for lost wages.

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It should go without saying that more prestigious positions will delve deeper into experience and education credentials. You never want to jeopardize your career and reputation by lying when it comes to a more illustrious position.

On the other hand, if you feel overqualified for a position, downplaying your experience and education is usually not the right move. You need to be honest with both yourself and your employer as to why you want a position that you’re possibly going to be bored in. It’s not an easy rationale to make, so make sure to think it through.

Having Been Fired

If you have been fired or laid off, don’t panic. While it’s better to be released due to circumstances outside of your control, either circumstance is manageable.

If you were indeed fired, you need to emphasize on your resume or cover letter and during an interview that you take full responsibility. You need to show that you’ve reflected upon the experience– you have learned from your mistakes.

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If the relationship went sour because it was a bad fit, you need to emphasize how there were differences in philosophy and expectations that were evident from the beginning. These differing factors caused you to not perform up to your high standards.

If it was just hostile from the get go, you can emphasize how you were praised for your work ethic, quality of work, and desire to make it work, but it wasn’t a team atmosphere, and that’s something you really need.

As a final example, if you struggled in a sales position, you can emphasize how you thought your people skills would allow you to thrive, but you ultimately found it wasn’t the right fit.

Gaps in Your Work History

If you have gaps in your work history, no need to lie. Just play it cool; you don’t want to give employers any hint that you’re hiding something.

You will want to have a legitimate, well-thought-out, and concise answer as for why you left any given job. This cannot be stated enough.

Gaps after a layoff are perfectly acceptable. You can explain the gap as being a time of learning new skills, in preparation for transitioning into a new role and job market.

If you have a gap that is a year or longer, you should have proof that you have been doing something productive during that time. This can be freelance or consulting work, volunteer work, etc.

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In case it’s not clear: the answer to whether white lies are acceptable is simply “no”. With these tips, you should be able to present yourself honestly, while landing that perfect position.

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