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Resume Fraud and Padding

Avoid resume fraud by writing your resume honestly

Resume fraud (i.e., being deceitful on your job application to make yourself look better) is obviously unacceptable. We recommend sticking to the facts when writing a resume. At the same time, we encourage job seekers to highlight their true skills, accomplishments, and abilities.

Examples of resume fraud

Resume fraud can include:

  • Listing false documents such as degrees, licenses, and other training certificates that are required for the job.
  • Citing fictitious former or present employers or work experiences.
  • Giving the name and contact information of a friend or relative as a reference, who then acts in the role of "employer" and gives the person hiring an exaggerated positive report on the job seeker.
  • Citing exaggerated claims about an actual position held. In this case, the company does actually exist and may even have given the employee a glowing recommendation, but the position held by the applicant was of a lesser nature than the one indicated on the resume.

While writing and formatting a resume, use common sense; remain professional and represent yourself as if your actions are being monitored constantly. Remember, at the very least, even if you secure a job through a fraudulent resume, your new employer has every right to exercise his or her option to terminate your employment upon discovering your dishonesty. However, there is nothing wrong with making yourself sound as competent as possible. Use words and phrases that accent your true skills and abilities. For example, instead of saying: "I worked at the Acme United Company for three years," say: "During my time at Acme United, I assisted in the organization and accomplishment of Projects I and II and acquired a great deal of experience regarding A, B, and C." Use a thesaurus for help in making the most of wording, as it will provide synonyms for many common words.

Some common bad habits to avoid in your resume writing

We see hundreds of resumes each month. Here are some common errors to avoid when drafting your resume:

  • The use of multiple, and wildly different, font styles. Instead of making the document look more creative, this makes a resume look messy and unprofessional. Stick to one type of resume, like a chronological resume or a functional resume.
  • Lack of consistency in headings and margin formats. Highlighting headings and company names in your resume is okay, but always remember to remain consistent within the document. For example, if you start by listing your employment periods at the right margin, continue that way. If you use bold to highlight a specific heading (such as the Objective or Work Experience categories), do this for all similar headings. Once you have chosen a font style for one heading, stay with it. This makes the resume easier and more pleasant to read. When it comes to your name at the top of the page, you can be a bit more creative with the font, but stay within reason. Try using a larger and/or different font style, as well as italics or the bold feature, if you like. For emphasis, your name can (and should) be the largest font on the first page, but only by a few extra point sizes. 

Make your resume stand out—without using fraudulent tactics!

To help your resume stand out from the rest (remember, there may be hundreds in the stack on the employer's desk), focus on key words or phrases associated with the job being offered. This shows the employer that you are paying attention to what they are looking for.

For example, if the job posting cites that the company is looking for applicants with communication skills or specific technical experience, hone in on these words and phrases and try to incorporate them into your resume. Focus on these key words in the Objective or Skills sections and within the Work Experience descriptions, as well as in your cover letter.  If you are sending a hard-copy or paper resume (as opposed to an online version), consider using a better quality paper. A slightly heavier grade and either an off-white or light sand color work best—but always avoid using paper that is overly unique, such as one with a purple background and flowers! Ultimately, you want it to be the content of your resume that makes the biggest impression, not your choice of stationery.

As always, avoid embarrassing errors in your resume by sending your documents to our resume editors for a second opinion. They will clean up your writing and ensure it is clear and effective.

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