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Home  > Article

Six Ways to Embellish Your Resume Without Lying

By Kate Lorenz

Most of us accept the fact that, many times, a sales pitch tends to stretch the truth. But stretching the truth on your resume, even though it is the equivalent of a sales pitch promoting you, is never acceptable.

Of course, you may not have to endure the public humiliation David Edmondson, former CEO of Radio Shack, did when newspapers across the nation reported he resigned after admitting the degrees listed on his resume were "incorrect." And Oprah isn't likely to rip you on her show like she did James Frey when false portrayals of his past in his "non-fiction" memoir "A Million Little Pieces" were uncovered. But the point is, while you may feel the need to pump up your resume to grab an interviewer's attention and land that prized position, eventually these "little white lies" will catch up with you.

So how can you enhance your resume without going overboard? Try some of these tricks:

Avoid half-truths and gross exaggerations.
Most hiring managers and recruitment professionals have had their share of resumes pass across their desks during their career. So they are usually adept at deciphering embellishments in a resume. They know that spending the last 10 years as a "domestic engineer" means you simply were home with your kids.

Keywords can help your resume stand out.
Rather than embellish your titles and accomplishments, use recognizable industry keywords that will jump out at hiring managers reading your resume and communicate exactly where your expertise lies. Keywords also help your resume get flagged if you're submitting it electronically or posting it on a job site.

Focus on quantifiable accomplishments.
Use specifics when detailing your past accomplishments -- the amount of money you saved the company, the number of employees you managed, etc. Rather than saying you saved the company millions, state precisely that you "saved the company $2.4 million." Actual numbers and percentages sound much more credible.

Change titles only if it clarifies your position.
If your title uses little known, company-specific jargon, such as being called an "office contact," when you performed duties consistent with an "administrative assistant," then go ahead and use the better suited title. You could list your title on your resume as "office contact/administrative assistant." Of course that doesn't give you the latitude to promote yourself to "vice president of administration."

Address gaps in your resume.
Instead of fudging the dates of your past jobs to cover an employment gap, address the lapse in your resume or cover letter to maintain chronological clarity. For instance, if you were out of work for a year during which time you took courses to enhance your education or professional credentials, list this academic stint on your resume, rather than pretending the period of unemployment never happened.

Half-finished degrees should not be listed.
If you "almost" completed your degree, you cannot list it as an earned degree on your resume. However, no education is ever wasted. Be sure to give yourself credit and list any completed coursework in a particular major or concentration.

Kate Lorenz is the article and advice editor for She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

Copyright 2008 All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without prior written authority.

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