You’re better off with a hole in your resume than a lie that will trip you up

A few weeks ago, I spoke with a job seeker about rewriting his resume. He has been unemployed for eight months and is nearing the end of his savings. He’s pacing the floor with anxiety.

When I asked to see a copy of his old resume, he paused and fumbled for a minute. He told me that he ‘fudged’ some of the facts on his document to cover up employment gaps. Nothing major, he said, he just padded a few dates to make the timeline look right. He paused again, and then told me that he’s afraid to send his resume to possible employers. ‘If they like me enough to perform a background check,’ he said, ‘it will be obvious that I lied. I’ll lose the job!’

He’s right about the potential consequence of lying on his resume. But he doesn’t have to worry about losing a job quite yet. His search isn’t off the ground.

At this point, his resume is the biggest roadblock in his job hunt. Even if goes against his instincts and submits the inaccurate document to hiring managers, self-doubt will be an uninvited guest at all of his job interviews. Employers will notice his angst and they’ll probably move on to other candidates.

I understand the desire to lie on your resume or online profile. Job searching is hard. Money problems run deep. In a crowded job market, an employment gap on your resume feels like a monster eating your chances at a thriving career. I assure you – it isn’t.

It’s true that some employers nix applicants with less-than-perfect career histories. But most hiring managers look beyond this superficial detail and evaluate job candidates with great care. They sift through resumes and online profiles, searching judiciously until they find individuals with the right character and expertise to grow their organizations.

Besides, almost everyone has so-called imperfections in their career histories. Short-term positions. Weird job titles. Attempts at new industries that didn’t pan out. Instead of fabricating facts, shift the focus of your document so that employers notice your strengths, attributes and financial value.

How do you change the focus of your resume? Update your layout and writing style. The key is to make strategic formatting and content choices that emphasize your most striking qualifications. If you don’t know where to start, check out paid resume-writing services on the Internet and review samples posted on their sites. You can pick up plenty of ideas. And there is no cost for browsing.

Also, don’t forget that your resume is not an official chronology. It is a marketing tool designed to capture attention and initiate job interviews. Refine your document until it showcases your pertinent work experience and impressive accomplishments. Remove everything else.

While you’re at it, confirm that the details are accurate and true. This way you can contact employers and tell them with unwavering confidence that you’re the best person for the job.

Job searching is challenging enough without the fear of getting caught in a lie. Don’t let anything chip away at your integrity. Create a compelling marketing presentation and make sure that you can support every bit of information on your document. If you don’t feel good about your resume, change it.

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