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Build a Resume That's Correct, Factual & Truthful
When building your resume or CV, don't overlook the importance of these three characteristics of your resume. Your resume should be correct, factual, truthful. All three aspects will speak to the reviewer in different ways about your professionalism, character, and integrity. Even when you have all of the necessary employment and education experiences, if your resume does not seem correct, factual or truthful, your resume (and you) may be rejected.
A "correct" resume is one that does not contain misspellings, typographical errors, or an unconventional format. It is smart not to rely upon just your own proofreading or your computer's spell check. Ask your friends and colleagues to take a look at your resume. Let them give you feedback about your phrasing or use of words. Ask them to question your grammar, punctuation and spelling. Remember, your resume is your first and perhaps only contact with a prospective employer. Your proficiency with written words tells the employer a great deal about your potential ability to project a professional image in the future.
A "factual" resume gives all the necessary facts in a straightforward manner. A reviewer should not be left to guess when you graduated from college or how long you worked for a prior employer. Many job hunters leave out or obscure dates and other facts. These job hunters think that they will provide the information at the interview. Don't make this fatal mistake! A resume that lacks facts causes the reviewer to wonder what the job hunter is hiding. Worse, the reviewer may suspect that the job hunter is being cagey or egotistical. At the very least, resume reviewers find it aggravating and uncooperative. This is not the impression you hope to make! Avoid the omission of information that you know the employer or recruiter will want. Give the facts right up front by including them in your resume. (Also see our article about concise resumes)
Companies and executive recruitment firms filling high-level jobs routinely make background checks, including claimed degrees, honors, work experience and references. Lies or exaggerations on a resume can be catastrophic. The most common lies that resumes contain involve dates of employment. Some applicants stretch employment dates to cover gaps. While it is true that employers like to hire candidates with solid work histories showing steady advancement, most employers care more about hiring honest, trustworthy employees. In fact, employees that lie are rarely forgiven by employers, while employees with major performance problems are given multiple opportunities to improve.
If you have been fired from a previous job, it is not necessary to point this out on your resume - but keep your employment dates correct. If you were laid off from a previous job due to a restructuring or downsizing, go ahead and give this a nod in your resume. (You may also wish to read our articles about compelling resumes or dealing with being fired.)
A "truthful" resume is profoundly important. The consequences of lying are greater than not getting a particular job now. As you advance in your field, you will discover that the world is smaller than you previously thought. Human resources professionals swap information. Executives know one another. If you lie in your resume, it can damage your overall reputation and harm your future prospects. Just remember, no one is immune from hard times or making mistakes. By being honest now, and humble if necessary, you pave the way for future employers to trust you and perhaps even mentor you, helping you to prevent hard times in the future.
So, in summary, proofread your resume. Have you used impeccable punctuation, grammar and spelling? Have you provided the facts, dates and specifics that reviewers will be looking for? Does your resume truthfully represent your education, accomplishments and work history?
"Truth is the only safe ground to stand on." (Elizabeth Cady Stanton)