The latest case of a high profile executive caught lying on their resume is just one of many examples of people exaggerating our outright lying on their resume. In an earlier blog post, I discussed the ramifications of lying on a resume. However, in light of what is in the news right now, let's look at what you can do to recover from a resume fib.
Step 1 - Assess the Situation
If you left information out of your resume and your application, the situation is much more serious. The resume is not a legal document like the application. If you have simply left out the information from the resume, you can explain that you were presenting only the most relevant information on the resume. A customer called me last week with this exact situation. She was facing a pre-hire background check and she had left a short-term job off the resume. When she explained that she had not included a brief, irrelevant position on the resume, all was forgiven.
Step 2 - Come Clean
Many people would say that admitting to an untruth is the equivalent of career suicide. However, the motivation behind admitting the mistake is to own up to your error so that you can begin to mend fences. Would you rather admit the mistake now and have a chance to explain yourself, or have the information come out in a post-hire background check so that you appear subversive.
Step 3 - Ask for Forgiveness and Demonstrate your Value
It is important to apologize for your actions. However, before you go into the meeting where you come clean and apologize, prepare a presentation that demonstrates the results you have (or can) achieve for the company and how you have brought (or will bring) measurable value to the organization. Discuss the motivation behind the lie or omission as the desire to get a chance to work for the organization. Flattery may not be everything, but it does not hurt!
The bottom line is to obviously not put yourself in this position in the first place. If you feel the need to lie, chances are you are lacking a key skill or qualification. Instead of focusing your energy on lying and then working to cover the lie, instead focus on obtaining the skills, experience and knowledge you need to succeed.