Calling All Bluffs

Post by: Tom Schin
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taking chances job searchpoker chips © Liz Van Steenburgh

I have a close friend I play cards with every so often. We make fun of him because he is always saying that he doesn’t bluff. It’s a point that’s argued left and right. He might not bluff, that doesn’t mean that often enough, he doesn’t make a poor bet, or get an unlucky hand, or get ‘rivered.’ It just brought to mind the number of people who like to bluff on their resume, or during their interview.



Most recruiters will tell you that they regularly see embellished or untruthful resumes. Some of my favorites are from people who have worked for me, worked for a friend or worked close enough that you know what their job title was, when they were there, and what they did or didn’t do (and that’s not what’s listed on their resume).  It’s unfortunate. We try to believe that everyone will be on the up and up with regard to their employment history, but sometimes people forget, and sometimes they get desperate.  Who knows the reason? The point is, the bluff gets called – in one way or another.

Once you’ve crossed that line and the prospective employer or manager finds out, you’re toast. You may look at it as a little ‘white lie’ or something so miniscule, but the employer, their left with the first impression being that you’re dishonest.

Some items we regularly see (think of these as dos and don’ts):

  • Education. If you have a diploma or degree – Great! If you don’t, please don’t hide behind it.  Not having one or the other doesn’t make you smart, but we’re asking because it’s important to what the job is asking. Perhaps there is a tuition program to help you get where you want in the long run.
  • Dates. Being off by a month on either end typically won’t hurt you. Not everyone can remember if it was January or February from eight years ago. Don’t tell us you were there for ten years though when it was five (yes, that one happened). Most companies these days are insistent on having verifiable references and employer verifications prior to you starting a new job.
  • Duties. Probably the most common one. We’ll fish it out during the interview, but it’ll end your chances pretty quickly. Once we learn you’ve overstated your experience or abilities, it raises doubts about how you’re going to act once we’re paying you to do a job. State the facts. If you performed a task once or twice, it doesn’t belong on the resume.
  • Job Titles. This one falls into you overstating your abilities. If you weren’t a manager or supervisor, don’t put that down. It’s ok to have performed leadership tasks – state it that way.

Most of the time, we’ll pull the real story out of the interview. The job seeker will have either answered inconsistently, or when verifying something, we’ll have uncovered the facts. Either way, recruiters and employers can and do call bluffs. Make sure you have a winning hand – or something worthy of hedging that bet.

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