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Years Later, Résumé Lies Can Haunt
Build your résumé and your reputation
on integrity for ultimate success
Jim Huling CEO of MATRIX Resources Inc.
Julie's interview was outstanding. She was bright,
articulate, and full of enthusiasm over the possibility
of joining my team. Although she was relatively
young, her résumé was impressive.
Her first job out of college had offered her the
opportunity to lead major projects, all of which
ended successfully, and now she was ready for
a new challenge. The decision to hire her was
an easy one.
Early on, Julie surprisingly struggled with
the projects assigned to her, but worked hard
and soon proved she could do the job. At the end
of her first full year, I was preparing to offer
her a promotion into a leadership role –
one that would bring her significantly increased
responsibilities, as well as income. It was a
promotion she had earned, but would never receive.
At this same time I happened to meet an executive
from Julie's former company and I asked if he
knew her, mentioning how well she had done as
a project manager on my team. I reminded him of
the projects she had led at his company and the
results described in her résumé.
Slowly, a look of recognition and concern spread
across his face.
"I hate to tell you this," he said,
"but Julie didn't lead any of those projects.
She was a member of the team, but the leadership
role as well as recognition for the results belongs
to someone else." He shook his head sadly
and said, "I'm sorry." So was I.
By the end of that day, Julie was no longer
employed by my company. She tearfully explained
that she had lied on her résumé,
expanding the description of her former role in
order to be given the chance to lead major projects
– something she knew she could do.
Tragically, Julie was right. She was a fine
project manager. Nevertheless, in manipulating
her way into the position, she made a devastatingly
bad decision. She assumed that her talent and
skills were the only requirements and that once
they were evident, nothing else would matter.
In the process, she ignored her greatest asset:
On the surface, Julie's mistake cost her a year
of hard work and diligent learning, but on a deeper
level, she damaged something far more difficult
to regain – the respect of the people around
her. Years later, my management team would still
refer to an inflated résumé as being
In your sincere desire to find your next great
position, you may face the same temptation as
Julie. If you do, you should answer two questions
before you submit your résumé.
Are you really prepared?
If you have to exaggerate your experience to be
qualified, you risk failing at the job once you
get it. Experience is the one credential that
can't be bought. It must be earned. If a company
requires a certain number of years in a particular
area, it's because they've learned the hard way
that it's really necessary. Be patient. Take credit
only for what you've actually accomplished. By
earning your way to the next level you'll be prepared
to succeed when you get there.
Is getting the job worth compromising
I've often wondered how Julie felt each day in
her role, knowing she had lied to get it. I imagine
she was constantly afraid that somehow, someone
would find out. I'll never know the price she
paid in worry and lost energy, but I will never
forget the anguish on her face when she realized
that everything she had worked so hard to gain
had been lost.
Remember that your character is the foundation
of everything that really matters. You can learn
skills, obtain experience and develop talents,
but when you can no longer be trusted, your career
can be damaged immeasurably.
Be guided by this phrase from my high school
Latin class: "Esse Quam Videre," meaning
"To be, rather than to appear." Build
your job search, and your career, on integrity,
honesty, and hard work. Over time, you will really
be the person your résumé portrays
and the success that follows will mean so much
more because you've earned it.
Jim Huling is CEO of MATRIX Resources Inc.,
an IT services company recently named one of the
25 Best Small Companies to Work for in America
for the third year in a row by the Great Place
to Work Institute and the Society for Human Resource
Management. Huling is also the author of the book,
"Choose Your Life!" – a powerful,
proven method for creating the life you want.