Have you been following the financial news lately?
It’s hard to avoid a recent torrent of stories about Sage Kelly, a top investment banker on Wall Street – a real-life “Wolf of Wall Street” – accused by his estranged wife of using illegal drugs, abusing his kids, and organizing wild Vegas orgies.
Sage Kelly’s ex-wife also implicated some of his top bosses and clients in the drugs and orgies. She even implicated herself – a nasty divorce, a wild, sordid tale that rings true on Wall Street.
HERE’S WHERE YOUR RESUME COMES IN
We live in an age of extreme skepticism. Stories like Sage Kelly and Bernie Madoff – or corruption stories involving the government itself – all feed into the pervasive, unspoken fears about hiring anybody.
Rationally, employers know you are okay – but they cannot shake the 1% chance that you are a ticking time bomb, or maybe a skillful liar.
According to Business Insider (7 August 2014): “A new survey from CareerBuilder among 2,188 human resources professionals found that more and more people are lying on their resumes today … a whopping 58% of hiring managers have caught job applicants being dishonest on their resumes, and one-third (33%) of these employers said they’ve seen an increase in embellishments since the recession.”
YOUR RESUME IS GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT!
In my personal experience, I am astonished at the wide-eyed naiveté of people who blithely assume that recruiters and interviewers accept their resumes, stories, and interviews as gospel truth. The probability is that you are lying about something, and they must dig it out now or face embarrassment later. If you are reading this, I know you were not present at those wild orgies in Las Vegas (or were you?) Whether true or false, those stories poison the well for everybody.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT?
• “Forewarned is Forearmed,” an ancient Latin phrase: 80% of your battle is simple awareness. Check your resume with fresh eyes, and assume that anybody who reads your resume is highly skeptical of you.
• The Truth Will Set Your Free: Be transparent. Tell your full story – explain gaps and show the full arc of your career, including the dates. Don’t worry about your age – it’s all over the internet anyway and anybody can Google all your personal info in less than a minute.
• Do not exaggerate, but never be afraid to aggressively assert your true accomplishments. In my experience, I meet very few of the 58% who lie on their resumes. Most of my clients err in the other direction – sometimes they play down the truth because they fear sounding like braggarts. That’s no good, either! Your goal is to stand out in a truthful way. As the Bible says, “do not hide your light under a bushel!”
Meanwhile, I wish you the very best of good luck in your search!