Why Lie?

Why do people lie on their resumes? As a recruiter, it makes no sense to me. More and more we are noticing people who “inflate” their skills, add a fake degree and/or increase their length of time at their last employer on their resume. The sad thing is, for the most part, they don’t have to go to such extreme lengths to get hired. Many times, these job seekers would be hired based on their real skill set or resume, if only they wouldn’t lie.

On two separate occasions in the past week, we have caught job seekers clearly lying on their resumes. In both cases, they then proceeded to lie to us about why they lied on their resume. We are in the business of getting people jobs, not blocking them from getting hired. When someone blatantly lies on their resume and then lies to us about why they lied on their resume, we can no longer represent those people and often times, they become blacklisted industry wide. If I were to catch someone in a lie on their resume and they were honest about why they did it (ie. admitting they were desperate because they needed a job and showed remorse), I might be willing to give them a second chance.
The reason I am writing this article is to implore the unemployed and employed job seekers NOT to lie on their resumes. If someone is worried that their resume might not represent them effectively, they should not resort to lying! Instead, that person should work with a recruiter, career coach or resume writer to see how they can represent their background in a better light. There are many folks who we have represented who have been out of work for two or more years or have been lighter on certain skills and yet, we are still able to find them jobs by teaching them to be honest and coaching them on how to represent their backgrounds more effectively.
That said, the next time you want to fudge your dates, add a degree or throw on some additional skills that you don’t have, think about the ramifications of your actions and how one lie could cost you your career.

What you say IS what you get

Have you ever listened to what people say? I mean, really listened? Over the last few years I have begun to pay attention to the language that people use in their job hunt and how it directly correlates to their effectiveness or lack of effectiveness in finding a job.

What I have begun to notice is that people who consistently use disempowering and passive language such as “I hope,””I’ll try,””I might,” “Maybe,” “One Day,” tend to be less effective in attaining the jobs they want than those who use more affirmative and empowering language such as “I will,” “I can,” “I intend,” “I am creating,” etc…
Though I am not a neuro-psychologist, I love the study of the brain and understanding how and why we do what we do. What if the language that we use had a direct relationship to our ability to attain our goals? I have personally played with this theory over the past ten years and have found it to be consistent that using empowering and affirmative language does have a direct correlation on my effectiveness, as well as on the effectiveness of those who I have taught these principles to.
One of the first things that I teach job seekers who come into my office is how to use affirmative and empowering language in their job search. Essentially, I tell them to start noticing the words they use to describe their job search and to omit the words that are disempowering.
This is also true of negatively discussing your job search with others. The most common phrase I hear amongst unemployed job seekers is “It’s hard.” It’s hard, meaning their job search. When you begin replacing “It’s hard” with things like “I am getting out there,” and/or “I am making progress,” you will start to notice that different results will begin to appear. Often times these results are getting you closer to the job you really want. 
In a class I lead called “Making Yourself Indispensable in the Workplace,” I coach job seekers to keep a note pad with them and to write down every time that they complain during one full day. From there, I teach them to notice the impact that their complaints have on those around them. What I have found is that many of us don’t even realize how often we complain and how our complaints begin to create our reality. When we replace our complaints with proactive or positive language about what is working, rather than what is not working, our perspective begins to change as well. Once your perspective begins to alter, your attitude, beliefs and actions will slowly alter as well to be in line with your new perspective on what you are committed to.
One of the best quotes that I have heard is “If you want to know what you are committed to, look at what you have.”
This statement can be biting for some people, because they don’t want to take responsibility for the circumstances in their lives. When you begin to take responsibility for both the good and the bad things that happen in your life, you are no longer the victim of your life, you are the cause of it and you will begin to have power over the direction your life goes.

More on Proactive interviewing

In my last article Proactive vs. Reactive interviewing, we discussed the difference between a proactive and a reactive interview. In this article, I wanted to give you an additional way that you can proactively approach your next interview.

One of the major reasons that people are ineffective at interviewing is that they are unprepared for the concerns, hesitations and/or issues that an employer has about their background. Rather than proactively addressing potential concerns or issues regarding their own resume they wait to react to the questions the employer asks them about why they might NOT be a fit and typically fumble.
Below are some examples of potential issues or concerns an employer might express about your resume and/or background:
Why do you have so much movement on your resume?
Why do you not have a degree or are you missing XYZ certification?
Why have you been temping so long?
What have you been doing since you were laid off?
Why do you not have specific experience or skills for this position?
The next time you go in for an interview, take a moment to dissect your resume the way an employer would, ie. looking for reasons why someone would NOT hire you. From there, you can prepare talking points to address those potential issues/concerns during the interview (because chances are that those concerns will come up). When you proactively address those concerns about your resume, the employer will appreciate it AND you will enhance your effectiveness in relaying what makes you a good fit for the position.

Proactive Vs. Reactive Interviews

What is the difference between a proactive vs. a reactive interview?

A majority of the job seekers in today’s market are passive interviewees who wait for questions to be asked of them (reactive). The difficulty with this style of interviewing is that you are waiting to be asked the “right” questions so that you can give the “right” answers. This style of interviewing is not bad or wrong, but it does make it more challenging to make your case on why they should hire you to the person who you are interviewing with. When you are interviewing from the “reactive” approach, you have little to no control over how the interview will go. It is also much more boring and tedious for the person interviewing you when they have to pull information out of you one question at a time.

A proactive interview, on the other hand, is one where the interviewee has talking points prepared about what makes them suitable for the position and finds ways to incorporate these points into the interview (see my earlier article on “Blocking and Bridging“). A proactive interviewee will also anticipate any possible concerns that the employer may have about their background such as lack of skills, movement on their resume etc…and will proactively address these concerns throughout the interview before the interviewer even has to bring them up. The great thing about this style of interviewing is that the interviewee will not have to be on the defensive when a touchy point is brought up because it has already been handled proactively by the interviewee. When you proactively interview, it makes the interviewer’s life easier because the interview flows more comfortably and it makes your life easier because you can more readily address the points you want to make the strongest case for why they should want to hire you.


Candidate “A” has a good resume, but recent movement on their resume.

The employer asks Candidate “A”:”Tell me about yourself?”:

Reactive interviewee:

“I have been in my field over 10 years and am good at what I do.”

Proactive interviewee:

“I have been in my field over 10 years and love what I do. One thing that has me stand out from others in my field is XYZ (talking point #1). Additionally, I wanted to point out that I do realize that I have moved around quite a bit recently and wanted to go through my history with you so that you can have a better picture as to why I have made some of these moves.” Candidate “A” then proceeds to clearly paint a picture that depicts their reasons for leaving (RFL), anticipating the employer’s potential concern about their movement (proactively addressing a potential concern AND saving the employer from painstakingly having to go through each RFL one by one).  

As my examples above illustrate, proactive interviewing skills can easily enhance your effectiveness in your next interview and get you one step closer to that job offer that you want.

Reactive interviewing can put you on the defensive and have you miss key opportunities to strengthen your case for why they should hire you.

The Power of Perspective

A few months back, right before the holidays, I had received a call from a job seeker who was referred to me. She was rather distraught that she had just been laid off right before Thanksgiving. She had a great resume with good stability and I told her not to worry, that I would do whatever I could to help her. 

The next day, we met for coffee in at a Starbucks in downtown. She proceeded to explain that she had never been laid off before and didn’t know how to handle it. She went on to tell me that she was the breadwinner in her family, and expressed that this was extra difficult, with it being around the holidays and having two children to take care of.

Does this story sound familiar? It is a story that many a
job seeker I have met with has faced. I see it all too often where an
intelligent, capable employee is laid off or let go for some reason or another
and it proceeds to break their bank and their spirit. When someone is laid off
around the holidays, it can occur as even more challenging for that job seeker.

So how is this story any different than all the others out
there about unemployed job seekers who are despondent and do not see any access
to having their old career or any career back? This story is about perspective.
It is about how one’s perspective can shift the way a circumstance occurs and
in turn, shift the outcome of that person’s future.

That day, I sat there and listed empathetically to the story
I had heard all too many times before, but on this very special day, I decided
to offer some coaching that I don’t always offer. I asked her how that
perspective was working out for.

She replied “What perspective?”

I responded “The perspective that your circumstances are
outside of your control and that your holidays are going to be miserable, you
are bad and/or wrong for having been laid off and that you will never find
another job or at least not as good or well paying of a job.”

She laughed nervously, and then took a moment to think
about. “I guess it kind of sucks.”

“Yes,” I concurred, “It does, doesn’t it?” I continued on,
“Are you open to looking at this situation from a different perspective that
could give you access to having one of the best holidays of your life.”

She looked at me incredulously but answered with a slight
enthusiasm, “Absolutely!”

I went on to discuss with her how her thoughts and her words
were going to create exactly what she feared most: no job and no money for her
family. The only thing we have in life is our thoughts and what we say about
them. In her case, she was saying what many unemployed people say: “It’s hard,”
“I won’t find a job,” “I cannot find a job,” “I am not as young as I used to
be…,” etc…

What happens when we use this language and think these
disempowering thoughts, I explained, is that we begin to create that
disempowering reality as the truth. Most people sit around hoping for a miracle
or some even go out and aggressively look for a job “hoping” that something good
will turn out for them, but the language they use and the thoughts they think
are counter productive to their intended outcome: getting a job.

“So what do I do?” she asked. Well that is the question,
isn’t it? What can you do to alter the way you think, act and speak so that
your thoughts and words align with your intention?

“What would it be like,” I asked “If you shifted your
perspective and saw this as an opportunity rather than an obstacle?”

“I am not sure I understand,” she replied confused.

“When was the last time you had a month or more off around
the holidays with your husband and children where you got to enjoy every moment
with them?”

“I cannot remember,” she responded.

“What if…you were to look at this lay off as a gift. A
chance to spend a month off with your family and to cherish every moment you
have with them and know without a shadow of a doubt that you will have an even
better job come the new year?”

“That would be a miracle!” She exclaimed. “How would I
possibly do that?”

We sat down and went through how to put together an
intentional action plan, including a statement of intent and a daily
declaration. That day, we created a statement of intent and a daily
declaration for Jane. By the time we completed our interview, she had access to a new perspective on
her job search and a new action plan on how to be effective in achieving her

 A few weeks later, I received a call on Christmas Eve. It
was Jane. She was in tears. At first, I was worried that something had happened,
but through her tears she managed to get out “Jennifer, I want you to know,
that these are not tears of sadness, rather, they are tears of joy. Thanks to
your coaching and feedback I have had the most amazing last few weeks
celebrating the holidays with my family and that wouldn’t have been possible if
you had not helped me shift my perspective. I also want you to know that I have
not found a job yet, but it does not event concern me. I have been doing my
daily declaration and focusing on my statement of intent every day and there is
not a question in my mind that I will have a job come the New Year. Thank you
for what you taught me.”

Less than two weeks later, I got a call a few days after the
New Year and it was Jane, “Jennifer, I want you to know that I got a job, and
not only that, it is closer to home and pays me more money. Thank you for what
you taught me. I will always remember you.”

This story is an example of what you can get if you are willing to shift your perspective and is the opening story of my upcoming book “Stop Hoping…Start Hunting!” Stay tuned, as the book should be widely available by the end of this year.