20 / The Truth about Lying Online

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The truth is often ‘massaged’ when it comes to writing a resume. Some people embellish achievements or over-emphasise a particular responsibility if it puts them in a good light for the job they are applying for. Some people find it necessary to do the opposite; downplaying their experience in order to not seem ‘over qualified’ for the job they truly desire. Some people lie outright, completely fabricating their work history, experience and qualifications.

We’ve all had to apply some sort of spin when it comes to job hunting in order to sell ourselves to a new employer and until recently, the humble resume was a candidate’s only selling document in their pitch for employment. Then along came LinkedIn.

LinkedIn usage has doubled from one million Australian users in 2010 to two million users in 2011 and continues to grow exponentially with over 150 million members worldwide. Speculations have been made that the online LinkedIn profile will soon render the traditional resume obsolete. However with this innovation comes the repercussion that it is now incredibly difficult to lie or bend the truth on your resume. An online profile that is accessible to the public, including prospective employers and former employers, means that your work history is on display. Any carefully crafted discrepancies can easily be discovered. It is now a public document.

While the traditional resume is still being used in the recruitment process, there is a danger in writing the truth on your LinkedIn profile and writing ‘your version’ of the truth on your resume, which is a common error that candidates make. The reality is that an employer will check both selling documents if they are wise about the recruitment process.

Will the increasing usage of LinkedIn public profiles spell the end of dishonest candidates? Probably not. But it certainly makes them easier to catch out.

Realistically, being caught out lying in an online profile can result in a big blow to your personal brand and credibility, which is not worth the potential job opportunities you’re hoping to engage.

The reason some candidates resort to lying or embellishing the truth on their resume is often because their lack of experience or qualification in a role disqualifies them from shortlists and excludes them from reaching the interview stage. The cliché of “getting your foot in the door” is still the biggest hurdle for job seekers, despite the innovation of online/social job hunting.

This immediate disqualification based on past experience means that a number of high calibre candidates are not considered for the job purely because they have not done the job before. This results in a Catch 22 situation. Employers who only interview candidates that have had previous experience in the same role will be certain to get a skilled and qualified employee; however the lack of challenge and growth within the job will lead to an employee becoming bored, complacent and unmotivated, most likely moving on from the job quickly. Employers need to realise that opening up their selection process to candidates who may lack experience but have greater capabilities will not only improve retention, but also stop the need for candidates to embellish on their resumes.

Nobody likes being lied to and while the scale of lying may start at minor white lies or flourishes and stretch into complete fabrications of reality, employers need to be aware of dangerous porky pies, and job seekers need to ensure their personal brand is consistently reflected on both their resume and LinkedIn profile.

Check out the April edition of Marketing Magazine where we explore this topic further!