We’ve all heard the advice that we should never, ever lie on a resume — and even if we hadn’t, the number of famous folks who’ve had to step down because of their fibs would clue us in. But is it ever OK to bend the facts, even just a little?
In a recent article in Psychology Today, Dr. Fredic Neuman provides a few examples of when it’s permissible to gloss the truth a bit:
1. The precise dates during which you were unemployed. You needn’t lie. Just don’t volunteer that you were out of work from April ’08 til August ’09. It’s easy enough to list your jobs on your resume in terms of years instead of months and years.
2. The reason for your unemployment, if it was for psychiatric or medical reasons.
3. Your skills — to a certain extent.
“It is okay to exaggerate your knowledge of certain matters,” Neuman writes. “For example, it is reasonable to say that you are familiar with particular computer programs that you may not have encountered before. Tell the prospective employer that you may have to ‘brush up.’ Then, of course, you should put in the effort to learn the program. It is better to be offered the job and be fired later on, than never to have the opportunity to do it in the first place.”
What should you never, ever lie about? Your qualifications, degrees, and previous employers — basically, anything that is easily verified. And it’s useless, Neuman says, to lie about your previous salary. Employers are much more easily persuaded by your experience than they are by your old paycheck. Arm yourself with research about the going rate for the industry, job title, and geographic location, and you’ll stand a much better chance of getting what you ask for.
Failing that, Neuman suggest asking for a review in six months, instead of a year’s time, to see if your work warrants a bump in pay.
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