June 23, 2008
I came across this article on Yahoo the other day, suggesting that over 50% of people lie on their resumes.
This is one of the things in the PHP Job Hunter’s Handbook I tried to stress. Do not lie. There’s no reason to do so, and many reasons not to. If you’re found out, especially if you’re hired, it puts everyone in a tough position, and you may find your way out of that job again pretty quickly. The interviews in the book had the same advice - don’t lie, and don’t try to present more than you are actually competent in.
Showing enthusiasm for a subject and willingness to learn something is far preferable to most people than claiming you really know the subject, then being put in a position where you have to perform, and falling flat. Many in the tech world are probably familiar with the story of Bill Gates claiming Microsoft had a BASIC interpreter ready, setting up an appointment, then writing it (with Paul Allen) in the intervening weeks. And they clinched the deal. Sounds heroic right? Well, for everyone of those types of stories, there are dozens over at http://thedailywtf.com (the Paula Bean story springs to mind, but there are many others).
You may think it’s harder to get your resume to land you an interview if you don’t inflate it. There may be some truth in that in some situations, especially in larger companies that rely on automated keyword checking in resumes to sift through incoming resumes. The article referenced above refers to this as a ‘false consensus’ belief, but there may still be some truth in it. At smaller companies (the majority of those doing the hiring, if I recall correctly!) resumes are more likely to be reviewed by people who can spot exaggeration or outright lies, and your honest resume will be more likely to be followed up with.
So, have you ever lied on a resume? Ever known anyone who has (if it wasn’t you)?