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How To Live Up To Your Resume

Be honest, don't take credit for everything.

17/05/2016 1:09 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:52 PM AEST
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Tell the truth.

For many of us, writing our resume is a task we dread.

Not only does it mean fine tuning what might have been a lengthy career description into a short-and-sweet one pager –- but you're forced to ponder your accomplishments and chose the ones most likely to impress a potential employer.

A recent survey of more than 2,500 business owners revealed 56 percent have discovered people lying on their resumes. The most common 'porkie' seems to be embellishing skills; 62 percent of respondents said they've come across this, and 54 percent say they've caught job seekers taking liberties when describing their responsibilities. A quarter have seen applicants claim to have worked for companies they have never worked for.

Mike Irving, a recruiter and business mentor, told The Huffington Post Australia most savvy business owners will glance at your resume for less than 10 seconds. What are they looking for?

'They want to see how long you have been employed at previous companies. If they see that you've been at one company for six months, another for one year, another company for 18 months -- they will not be interested in you if you have spent less than two years at your previous employment. What does it tell them? It tells them you will leave the company within two years," Irving said.

"The most important part of your resume is simple: be honest."

"Smart business owners value honesty above everything else. They also use tests that tell them how honest you are. For example, there's the psychometric tests that predict with great accuracy your attitude and your integrity."

Irving suggests people stop using buzz words on their resume. He said if he had had a dollar for every resume that featured the words 'I think outside the box' or 'I'm a strategic thinker,' he could retire.

"What does that even mean? If you think outside the box, show me some examples. If you're a strategic thinker, what strategic thinking have you mastered? I'm tired of seeing these words that don't mean anything," Irving said.

Jenny Brown from JBS Financial said employers really need to screen candidates and ask a lot of questions, without relying solely on a resume.

"You need to talk people through their job roles and get a sense of whether they can think on their feet. Make sure they're living what they are putting on paper. It's pretty easy, in a conversation, to pick up whether somebody isn't telling the full truth," Brown said.

"Also don't take credit for something that your entire team achieved. You always have to say when it was 'the team' and not just 'me'. It might have been your idea but, in most cases, it takes great team work to make a company or a project succeed. Always be humble and make sure you have a very well-crafted cover letter."

Mobile App developer Appster caused quite a stir when they revealed their demanding 22-hour job application process -- a method they use to ensure they hire people who are a right fit for their company.

Appster co-founder Mark McDonald told Huffpost Australia that the process is for applicants of a senior level but, even for entry level workers, the process is quite long. McDonald said it's important to make sure you demonstrate humility and confidence.

"There are many warning signs in people's resumes. For example, where people use the word 'I' a lot when the achievement is a group effort. Also where people are really bragging which is often a self-esteem issue," McDonald said.

"Your resume should also reflect the fact that you are hungry, that you really want to work for us. And your resume should reflect an upward trend in your career. It's okay to have a dip, but if your career has gone downhill in the last few years that becomes obvious in the resume and the interview process"

McDonald also takes candidates through a 20-minute screening application to find out where they want their career to go, and how their current manager would rate their performance out of ten.

"This requires humility but also confidence," McDonald said.

"We often ask, 'What's the toughest thing you've achieved?' We want them to talk about what they are passionate about and want to develop and have hunger to achieve more. That hunger is never bragging, it comes from a place of humility. If they can display a strong degree of hunger, that's better than bragging about achievements."

Recruiter Mike Irving hopes job hunters will stop wasting their time on long-winded and wordy resumes.

"Once they realise that the resume is something most employers only glance at briefly, they will stop trying to bump it up with buzzwords to make themselves look better than they really are."

Mike Irving's Resume Tips

  • Be honest. Don't elaborate and don't make things up.
  • Make sure when you accept a job offer that you intend to be there for longer than two years, so you can develop skills and show your ability in that role.
  • Keep your resume very short. If you can, not more than one page. Anybody can be taught to write a spectacular resume. Use bullet points and avoid buzz words.
  • If you insist on calling yourself a 'strategic thinker' give an example or two. What makes you a strategic thinker and how has this reflected in your success.
  • Be humble. There's a big difference between boasting about your abilities and being able to demonstrate your abilities. Your work history should speak for itself.

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