Today I was interviewing a search consultant for a project I’m doing: a series of interviews about the current hiring climate in various sectors, for the career management website BlueSteps.com. We were talking about a common acquaintance who recently took a very senior job. It turns out that this particular search consultant had been considering this candidate for another very senior job, and at the very last minute the company withdrew their offer. Why? Because in conducting their due diligence, the search firm found that the candidate had inflated his graduate degree. He said he had an MBA, but it turns out he had something different.
Now that’s embarrassing. It turns out the search firm that ended up placing him in his new job either didn’t check his credentials thoroughly or, more likely, he changed the description of his degree after his gaffe was discovered. So he got a job; no harm done, right? Not so. The search firm that caught the degree detail will have notes in this candidate’s file, and they happen to be the pre-eminent search firm in his industry. So the next time they have a hot opportunity, they’re unlikely to get in touch with him. Too bad.
I mention this because it’s a common occurrence. And when we’ve been working a long time, sometimes the early career details can seem a bit fuzzy and we find we’re able to convince ourselves to tweak a resume detail to favor our current situation. My advice: Be careful. Don’t do it. It could come back to haunt you. When it comes to resumes, project a strong, positive image for sure. But don’t embellish the facts–in the end, it’s not worth it.