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How and Why You Should be Honest in Your Resume

Date: 21/08/2013

How and why you should be honest in your resume 

Benjamin Franklin explained it best when he wrote, "honesty is the best policy." Not only does this apply to politics, but very much so to resumes as well. Therefore we highly recommend that as a jobseeker you aim to always be honest when writing a resume or cover letter to ensure you achieve a rewarding first impression when applying for employment.

As we live in a society where jobseekers are highly competitive and understand that they are up against many impressive resumes, a lot of people seem to think that it's okay to stretch the truth when writing their own resumes. However if truth be told, this will more than likely come back for them like a boomerang. Although a resume is often the initial "paper side" of applying for employment and will help you achieve an interview if it is written effectively, it is often the interview that will either support or destroy your opportunity for employment, based on what you have stated in your resume. Thus, when prompted by interview questions you’re running the risk of ‘spilling the beans’ if you are unable to speak truthfully and support what you declared on your resume application.

Therefore below are some ways in which you can produce an effective, yet honest resume when applying for employment.

 1. Avoid overstating your achievements. As a jobseeker, you want to sound credible and give the employer the impression that you would be a reliable asset to their work environment.  Therefore keep your resume achievements truthful and don't pretend you have achieved certain aspects in your career or personal life if they are not true.

2. Avoid misrepresentation. In every aspect you don't want to misrepresent yourself, so be precise and consistent when writing your resume. Employers like to see what you've accomplished, and a great way to show them is by quantifying your results. Numbers can be very valuable when used accordingly. If you've managed a sizable budget or inked a big deal — mention that. Also when declaring your job titles or roles, ensure that what you describe in your duties and employment history section is accurate and true. This is important as employers need to understand what you can and cannot due and falsely misrepresenting yourself as a jobseeker will more likely land you in a role which does not suit your skillset or competencies.

3. Include other relevant roles and activities. Remember that any unpaid jobs, such as volunteer and community work, are qualified as accomplishments as well — include these in your resume. This also gives the employer an idea of how you spend your ‘free time.’ Also highlight any education, professional awards and skills that you can relate to the position you're applying for. 

4. Watch your language and describe your personality accurately. Pay attention to your choice of words when describing yourself. If you're a rather reserved person, don't describe yourself as being energetic and out-going. Instead, focus on your personality traits which relate to the position that you're applying for, while at the same time staying true to yourself. 

5. Provide real references (not fake ones) It's important that your employment history follows with at least two references. Your resume references should reflect you both at a professional level and a personal level to help an employer understand your true employment performance and personality within the workplace. You don’t want to leave your employer wondering who to contact. Include the name of your supervisor, name of the company and his/her position title, phone number (not mobile), as well as an email address.  Make sure your references are suitable for your resume and they are legitimate as some employers do play due diligence and will check your references if they need further clarification on your abilities or character.

At the end of the day, your goal shouldn’t be to target the best position available. Your main goal should be targeting the job that matches your career and personality, as this gives you an opportunity to make use of your skills and experiences in a way that benefits yourself as well as the employer.