How to Keep Your Résumé From Costing You the Job

Genevieve Fish

Your resume often serves as the outline to a background check by your potential employer. If there are discrepancies between the two, it will likely cost you the job. Be careful with resume inflation—even the slightest exaggeration can get you into trouble. For example, one HR executive had an excellent candidate lined up for a position. Her resume stated that she received a bachelor’s degree. Her background check confirmed that she did not. While the candidate did complete all required credits for the degree, outstanding library fees cause her not to receive the degree. “Had she listed her credits rather than the degree—e.g., completed all 120 credits towards a bachelor’s—that would have matched the check done by the employer, and she would have been fine,” says the HR rep in an article in Time. Stick to the following guidelines and you will come out on top. 

Always provide examples.

According to a study conducted by, 57% of job candidates embellish their skill set on their resumes. If you include a skill like HTML programming on your resume, make sure to include an example of when you used said skills. If you can’t think of an example, cut it from your resume. 

Steer clear of using a title you don’t formally have.

Even if you have taken on the responsibilities of the director of development, don’t put down that title on your resume unless it is officially yours. One call to your former company’s HR department will shatter your chances of being hired. However, don’t sell yourself short. If you have taken on responsibilities that exceed your job description, be sure to include those on your resume. You want to capture the responsibilities and accomplishments that you have earned, without inflating your role within the company. 

Always have a reference you can confirm your accomplishments.

Even if the hiring manager you’re interviewing with doesn’t check, thinking about who would be able to substantiate your resume keeps you from inflating it. If you write that you led a team, have a senior person in your department ready to confirm your leadership position.

The bottom line is to be truthful about your work. Companies look for honesty just as much as they look for skilled workers. More likely than not your actual skillset and accomplishments are enough to get you the job, and your honesty will put you ahead of other potential candidates.

To read more about resume missteps, visit Time.

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Have you learned from a resume mistake in the past? Share with us in the comments below! 

Opening photo: Simônè Slater


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