Would I lie to you?
I’m in the minority of Americans — I’ve never lied on my résumé.
It’s not that I never lie. Why, just last week, my wife shoved the Visa statement in my face and grumbled, “What’s this charge for 87.50???” To which I promptly responded, “I needed an emergency prescription of Prilosec.”
“From Barnes & Noble???”
“Yes,” I responded, “Now they have a pharmacy along with the coffee shop and package store.”
So much for my career as a liar. See, if you’re going to succeed, you can’t get caught. But while I might occasionally fib to my wife, I’ve never lied on my résumé, which is probably why my job searches have always ended miserably.
Some embellishment would have helped. I should have said I won a Pulitzer Prize. I invented the iPhone. I was financial adviser to Ben Bernanke … in kindergarten. My wife’s maiden name is Kardashian. The usual stuff.
If I described myself as a “self-starting, motivated, team-playing wunderkind,” I could have landed that job at the dog pound.
More than 53% of Americans have lied on their résumés, according to a survey by the Society of Human Resources Managers. The other 47% don’t have résumés or don’t need them because they spend their day hanging out at Starbucks, pecking on iPads and looking for dates. And some are moving up the ladder in the family dry-cleaning businesses.
Lying is an American way of life. We expect to hear lies from our politicians, our bosses, our spouses, and our kids. An estimated 1.6 million people cheat on their income tax returns, some 51% of high school students cheat on tests and more than 70% of college students said they would lie on their résumés to land a dream job.
My dream job, I confess, would be personal assistant to Lady Gaga. I love all those crazy wigs that glow in the dark. But I may be too old for that position, so I’ll have to trim a few years off my résumé, which is a common tactic among guys on the verge of becoming “geezers.”
I’ll delete some of my employment history, including lawn-mowing specialist for Mrs. Dwyer, union laborer for Iannucci and Son Contractors, mason’s helper for P&I Construction, and nightshift dock worker at Reliable Steel Drum. I’ll also have to conceal that gap in my résumé during my tumultuous 20s when I traveled through Europe in search of truth and a good party.
A lot of middle-aged guys revise their job history in an effort to compete with 78 million members of the Millennial Generation who are trying to push them out of the workforce. Another common tactic is to lie about your education and whether you actually graduated from college. This deception can be easily avoided.
For example, instead of lying and saying, “Graduated from Pooh-bah University with a degree in cocktail mixology,” just say “Attended Pooh-bah University” or “Paid tuition to Pooh-bah University” or, more candidly, “Partied at Pooh-bah University.”
The astute Human Resources Professional, who probably also went to Pooh-bah, will call the college for verification and ask, “Did he really party at Pooh-bah?” And they will truthfully reply, “With distinction. For $63,000 a year, he learned to party and think critically, which are valuable skills in corporate America. We pride ourselves on preparing students for the working world.”
Then they’ll offer you the job with a 30% bonus potential and a company credit card for personal use. Always remember, honesty is the best policy — when it works.
Providing fraudulent references is another practice of unscrupulous résumé writers. While I never personally did this before, I intend to list Sofia Vergara as a reference because that will help get me a night job at Johnnie’s Bar & Grill and a day job at Victoria’s Secret. Times are hard.
I’m going to turbo-charge my résumé. I’ll describe myself as a “self-starter, boss-hugger, problem-solver, problem-creator, brownnoser, wig-wearer, and team-player.” Plus, I’ll sprinkle the résumé with adjectives like “motivated, seasoned, highly qualified, results-oriented, collaborative, detail-oriented, proactive, and synergistic.”
And I’m not lying … at least I don’t think I am.
Joe Pisani may be reached at email@example.com.