About 15 years ago I received a resume from a young man who was interested in a Product Manager position at our firm. HR had screened the resume and said he looked pretty good – great school, some solid experience, sounded great on the phone.

Terrific! As a result, I was excited about learning a bit more about this candidate. I picked up his resume, scanned it for about 10 seconds, took my pen out and drew a big X on the top sheet. What happened?

2 things: one of them I suppose could be argued is minor, the other quite a bit more significant:

  1. It seems to me that if you are seeking a career in Product Management, you ought to be able to spell the word “management” correctly. This applicant opted for the unusual but wrong “managment.”
  2. One of the accomplishments he mentioned on his resume was that he drove the development of a innovative product which was introduced a few years earlier by one of our competitors – suggesting that he played the lead role. I found this fascinating, since the individual who conceived, researched, and spearheaded the development of that product had an office two doors away from my own. (We’d hired him shortly after the launch of the product in question.) Doh!

Read on for some truly stupendous lies people have told on their resumes…

I was reminded of this experience recently when I saw an article about resume embellishment at MarketWatch. According to that piece, 49% of of hiring managers reported finding lies on the resumes they’ve reviewed.The most common lies included:

– Embellished responsibilities — 38 percent

– Skill set — 18 percent

– Dates of employment — 12 percent

– Academic degree — 10 percent

– Companies worked for — 7 percent

– Job title — 5 percent

The original data originated from a survey of 3100 hiring managers conducted by CareerBuilder. Career Builder asked the hiring managers to recount the most outrageous or memorable lie they’d discovered on a resume; here they are:

1. Claimed to be a member of the Kennedy family

2. Invented a school that did not exist

3. Submitted a resume with someone else’s photo inserted into the document

4. Claimed to be a member of Mensa

5. Claimed to have worked for the hiring manager before, but never had

6. Claimed to be the CEO of a company when the candidate was an hourly


7. Listed military experience dating back to before he was born

8. Included samples of work, which the interviewer actually did

9. Claimed to be Hispanic when he was 100 percent Caucasian

10. Claimed to have been a professional baseball player

Certainly you want to put your best foot forward on your resume, but embellishing should be approached with extreme care. And out and out lies such as those reviewed above should never be considered. if you’re a poor speller, have someone who can spell proofread your resume – or hire someone.

Last, a couple of tips we’ve covered here before:

  • Apply as early as possible in the process
  • Research the company thoroughly and utilize your network for help
  • Interview as late as possible in the process
  • Go into the interview with a list of 10-20 solid questions about the company
  • Ask everyone you interview with what the company’s strategy is
  • Dress appropriately
  • Be unfailingly polite to everyone, including the receptionist and administrative assistants you meet
  • Bring copies of your resume; bring samples of your work
  • Be on time!
  • Demonstrate energy and passion
  • Determine what they’re looking for early in the interview (“What would the person who’s hired have to accomplish in his/her first 6 months?” and “What characteristics would someone need to succeed in this position,” and so forth

If you’re unemployed, see my post from yesterday regarding surviving a recession. And whatever you do, please don’t misspell the job title, name of the company, name of the interviewer, or hiring department – it won’t help you in your search! – and do not engage in wild embellishments no matter what…  it won’t bring you to a happy place. Good luck!


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