When an Australian woman faked her credentials on her resume, she won the top South Australian government job she applied for, complete with an annual salary of $270,000. She then found herself in jail.

Another jobseeker listed on their resume that they held a specific position. The problem they couldn’t possibly have known when submitting their resume was that the person who actually held the position was on the interview panel.

Fudging your resume—outright lying or exaggerating the truth—makes no sense and chances are you’ll get caught. You won’t land the job. You’ll damage your reputation. You’ll be embarrassed.

Even if you do get the position, it won’t take long for management to discover you aren’t performing because you don’t have the skills you claim to have.

Here’s how to do the right thing on your resume, to keep your reputation intact.

Change your approach

Instead of lying or exaggerating when you don’t have the exact skills an employer is looking for, be honest and work hard with your recruiter to highlight transferable skills or strengths you can adapt to the position. Demonstrate your adaptability, willingness to upskill and eagerness to develop.

Be honest with career goals

Career goals is an area some jobseekers manipulate, wanting to include what they believe recruiters or prospective employers want to hear, even though it’s not in synch with their inner desires.

Honesty is the best policy. If your career ambition isn’t to climb to the very top, don’t worry about saying so. You won’t be regarded as lazy or unambitious if you couch your true goals in the correct way. Remember that many employers are looking for people who want to stay in a role and perform well. This provides stability and saves the employer from fretting that every employee wants to be promoted quick sharp. This is especially true for small businesses not in a position to progress every employee up the ladder quickly. This doesn’t mean you won’t grow or develop in your role—great employers will make sure you have plenty of opportunities.

Be accurate with your education

Avoid lying about your education. Contrary to what many jobseekers believe, recruiters and employers conduct background checks, verification checks and even police checks. If you say you’ve completed a course or degree and haven’t, you’ll be uncovered. Like the candidate who claimed they had completed an online course when they had only finished one module.

Don’t muck around with your hard skills

If you claim to have certain hard skills, be prepared to be tested. If you say you’re expert at using a computer program, or can execute a technical skill or understand a subject matter, get ready to prove it. One jobseeker said they understood a research evaluation technique but when asked to describe it in their interview, they stumbled and made a fool of themselves. Another jobseeker claimed they had expertise in a software program and then couldn’t answer a basic question on how it worked. Awkward!

Never play around with gaps in employment

Many jobseekers are nervous about time gaps in their careers, believing that recruiters or prospective employers will see this as a negative. Not necessarily true. If you’ve taken time to study, travel, raise a family or take care of a loved one, explain this in a factual way and stress how you’re ready to now get back into the workforce with gusto.

Read our expert article on career breaks and how to handle on your resume.

Get a resume health check

Our expert recruiters will sit and review your resume with you to advise how to strengthen it while remaining truthful. We’re here to help you write a winning resume.

Match your digital footprint with your resume

Most of us are on social media these days. If what appears on your digital footprint is different than what you claim on your resume, you could find yourself in a tricky situation. That counts for LinkedIn but also platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Follow our tips for assessing and improving your online brand.

Last but not least

Remember that fudging your resume is a career risk you should never take. Professional recruiters will help you develop strong, true and accurate resumes.

Discover the many other reasons it’s worth using a recruiter (our services are free to jobseekers).

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