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How to Get Away with Lying on Your Resume

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When is it not only beneficial, but also morally acceptable, to lie on your resume? Only in instances when you’re lying to yourself for the benefit of self-confidence.

Much has been written about building confidence for an interview. But how do you get the interview in the first place? It still comes down to how you look on paper—your resume and cover letter have to pop.

To be sure, lying to yourself without misrepresenting who you truly are is a balancing act. Here are some tips you can use to pull it off:

It’s okay to brag about success

Own your successes, big or small. You’ve done some remarkable things. Find an artful way to include these achievements in your resume or cover letter. You might not think it’s a big deal, but this is where you need to overcome the subjectivity of your self-view and derive confidence from your accomplishments.

If you worked part-time as a server while maintaining a 3.5 GPA throughout school, point to this as a demonstration of your impeccable work ethic.

If you were president of your fraternity and raised $5,000 for a local charity through an event you organized, highlight your advanced organizational and management skills.

Allow others to define your strengths

Train yourself to accept compliments and use them to your advantage. If your supervisor at your latest internship tells you you’re a great problem solver, roll with it, regardless of whether or not you agree with the assessment.

Rather than asking for a formal reference, ask former employers and professors—those who have worked with you and can speak to your abilities—to help you craft a resume and cover letter that helps you put your best foot forward.

Use these comments and compliments to help you define your strengths as a job candidate. Your self-view might be conflicted to an extent, but consider the source.

Avoid looking for the perfect fit

Don’t let the pursuit of the perfect job stand in your way of getting hired. The truth is, most job descriptions list attributes and qualifications they assume the right candidate will possess. Some are strict. Others are, at best, an educated guess.

In a highly competitive job market, employers continue to enjoy the luxury of selectivity in the hiring process. You’ve probably seen it: it’s the perfect job description, but you’re missing out on one of the 10 soft skills they’re requiring. (“I’m not sure if I’m a true ‘self-starter.’”)

Rest assured, if you’re checking off most of the boxes in the qualifications and requirements sections of a job description, you’re likely a highly competitive candidate. Whether you believe it or not, present yourself to employers as the candidate they’ve been looking for all along.

You don’t need to be an expert

Finally, know your limits as a candidate. The word “expert” is one of the most commonly overused words on resumes and one that can come back to bite you.

For example, knowing how to use Microsoft Excel does not make you an Excel expert. If you consider yourself to be an advanced user, by all means, work that into your resume. But be careful not to overstate things.

Confidence is a double-edged sword. Displaying overconfidence can paint you as out of touch or arrogant, while being more reserved or timid can come across as weak. As with everything in life, make it a goal to strike that healthy balance.

And if you have to lie to yourself to get there, do so confidently.

(Of course, never lie about facts. It’s wrong on many levels and is a huge resume blunder that’s easily avoidable.)

Eddie Earnest is the lead marketer at HigherNext and a regular contributor to Corporate Casual, a blog focused on exploring trends in higher education, entry-level hiring and the assessment of business skills.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=271703022904314 Careerleaf

    Thanks for the tips, Eddie! Building self-confidence can certainly contribute to success during the job search. I really enjoyed your advice about letting others define your strengths. As a job seeker, it’s easy to completely overlook valuable traits and skills to put on your resume.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=14227883 Eddie Earnest

    I’m glad you found it useful. It’s always good to be reminded that our strengths exist whether we are capable of or choose to consciously acknowledge them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=541665117 Ruth Louden

    Hi Eddie – I like all your tips and agree – I’m glad you didn’t really teach readers the art of “getting away with lying” as I see far too many students who think this is a normal practice in resume writing!

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    Lying is never a great idea, but the most important thing is to ensure that your CV is presented with a pinch of salt. Modesty might earn you respect, but not a job. So, the article has hit the nail on the head. http://www.assignmentwritinghelp.com

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  • jranodm421

    Lying is a BAD idea. Just remember what happened to Yahoo’s previous CEO

    • JranodsMom

      Yeah, he became CEO of Yahoo.

      • jrandom421

        Until he got found out to be a liar, and was then publicly humiliated and.forced out 2 months after he was hired.

  • http://twitter.com/max4739 Daisy Surtees

    Start with a smile. This is by far the fastest way in the world to create a bond.
    The right grin beams with confidence, creating immediate respect and
    interest. Smiles are contagious, and the simple change in physiology
    they cause makes people feel better.

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    The headline is misleading; actually, it’s a lie.

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