Don’t Lie On Your Resume, Ever.

Abstract: Don’t lie on your resume. Ever. If we don’t immediately shine light on damaging advice, then we secede our integrity to the misinformed.

A question was asked recently in the “SOFTWARE-TESTING” Yahoo group from someone who was seeking advice on how to better construct their CV/resume. A lot of tips starting pouring in from the group, and all seemed relatively innocuous until one specific recommendation was posted. The recommendation pointed to an article that suggested there were appropriate times to lie on your resume, or as the post put it “exaggerate” certain elements.

Here’s a quote from the post that was referenced:

“What should you do in case you have only 2+ years of AngularJS experience and want to apply for this job [requires 3yrs]? Realistically speaking you are the most experienced developer who is willing to work in Montreal with AngularJS. You should exaggerate your Angular experience and put 3 years on a resume. Otherwise there is a risk that your resume may be discarded as not meeting minimal requirement. Could you imagine all developers being honest and this agent getting no response to such job post? Nobody would benefit from such honesty. To make this agent and his client happy you need to lie on your resume. – [Author’s name removed]

Now, usually I credit my sources, but in this case, I will not link to the original article or post the author’s last name, as I believe people can change. If this person were ever to have a change of heart and take down the detrimental post in hopes for redemption among the community, then I would not want this post to stifle that. I did send a strongly worded reply, stated below:

“[Author’s name removed], I do not know your context, but I would steer anyone away from this logic. It is unethical, in my opinion and simply not necessary given the risks. I would strongly suggest NOT doing this. When should you lie on your resume? Never. If a company uses years of experience as a sole deciding factor for eliminating my resume, then I wouldn’t want to work there, so thank you for not wasting my time. I believe a good heuristic is simply to tell the truth 100% of the time. Putting “3 yrs” on a resume for someone that has “2 yrs” of experience is just asking for trouble. It can easily be challenged and then your professional reputation is at stake. Your name becomes tarnished in the industry as a liar. We are not in the business of misleading others, quite the opposite. This is not for me, but that’s just my two cents. – Connor”

But you don’t need to take my word for it, check this out.

Final thoughts

So, did my reply make an impact or simply bounce off? I’m not sure. Would I love to see that person take their article down for the sake of the community? Yes. On the other hand, do also I realize that people have to come to realizations on their own, sometimes learning though experience before they will gain a visceral understanding on some topics? Yes. As soon as I saw this recommendation, I knew a reply from me was going to happen, it was simply a matter of time. This comes from a feeling of responsibility, that the onus is on us to call these things out when we see them appear in the testing or in the larger software communities. If we don’t immediately shine light on damaging advice, then we secede our integrity to the misinformed.

One thought on “Don’t Lie On Your Resume, Ever.

  1. Great article!
    I would think that people who have done even a little bit of recruiting can understand that it is possible to get really good at a specific type of technology rather quickly. However, it is also possible to work with something for 10 years and not use it to its fullest.
    What would you think of including buzzwords in your resume in order to get past automatic filters though?

    [Connor’s reply: When my first son was born in 2008, I looked at him with awe, but also thought of all of the things I might not be able to afford him that my parents did me. One of those items was a private education. Most of my friends growing up were from public school, and ended up being decent folks as adults, but I noticed that attending private school helped bolster my parent’s values and moral system, such that they had less concern about what I was being taught at school than did my other friend’s parents. They knew that the curriculum and mentorship I was receiving was more congruent with their own, and that put them at ease. However, I knew I would not be able to afford a private school education for my child, so my wife and I decided to find the ‘best’ public school we could. All of our research pointed to a local K-6 primary that happened to be a ‘Classical Magnet’ school. It was a public school, and it required us putting our name in their lottery twice before we got picked since we did not live in the home area. This school, while public, contained one of the hallmarks of private schools, in that they required uniforms for the boys and girls, and were strict about skirt length and not allowing any torn clothes with holes. Some would think this is only a single data point about uniforms, but it told me so much more about the environment and the school than simply that one element. We came to find later that the teachers were more strict with behavior than most public school systems, they had been together for over a decade in their same positions so the school had stability, high-parent involvement for faculty accountability, etc. This one hallmark led me to find many others that were congruent with my desired value system, so we felt good having our child attend.

    This is a long roundabout way of saying, you may never find a perfect situation but you can typically look to the hallmarks of your past desirable environments to steer where you go next. So in your example, the negative hallmark there (or oracle, how we recognize there is a problem) would be the fact that they use such arbitrary filters to make important business decisions. That tells me more about their company, than simply a data point in their hiring process, thus I would not want to work there.]

    I remember someone suggesting to write “NOT ISTQB certified” on their resume for these occasions.

    [Connor’s reply: This is an interesting concept, but again, do you really want to work somewhere that believes certification is king? Now, maybe the job availability where you live is minimal, and all testing jobs there require this, so then I might make this statement in hopes of starting a conversation with someone about certification, but I’d probably explore other avenues (online, remote, consulting, etc.) before trying that.]

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