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Honesty Always Best Policy When Writing Up Your Resume

Honesty Always Best Policy When Writing Up Your Resume

Molly Selvin | Los Angeles Times

Fibbing on your resume is a really bad idea.

First, you probably will be found out by the army of commercial background screeners that employers deploy to scour resumes, check criminal records and pull credit histories.

Plus, you don’t need to. Many bosses are pretty forgiving if you come clean about a minor brush with the law or a supervisor so nutty he sent you running for the door.

Yet, resume tinkering is practically an epidemic. Superheated competition for jobs, especially those with big paychecks, tempts many applicants to pump air into their resumes. A gig as an administrative assistant expands into a management title. A mail-order MBA is passed off as the real deal.

“We tend to disproportionately reward individuals with extraordinary records,” said Kirk Hanson, a business professor and executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University in California.

“There’s a huge incentive that’s increased over the years in claiming that you’re a star, so individuals tend to knock pieces from their resume that are inconsistent with being a star and add things that are consistent with that image.”

But the precipitous tumble of high-profile managers in recent years should send up red flags for job seekers.

Marilee Jones had to quit her job as the longtime admissions dean at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after acknowledging that she didn’t have an undergraduate degree as she had claimed. Jones had won national attention crusading against the pressure on students to build their resumes for elite colleges.