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When a Résumé Looks too Good to be True…

…It probably is! Some time ago I wrote an article titled “Lying on Resumes Alarmingly Common”, where I referenced a newspaper article with the heading “Official Résumé Wrong”! Fast forward to 2011, and it appears the topic of ‘lying on résumés’ has reared it’s head again. As a matter of fact, one month ago, I was reviewing the résumé of a young man and when I questioned him about his most recent experience, he admitted he had fabricated it because “others were doing it.” As a career coach and professional résumé writer, I owe it to my clients and myself to make sure that the information is correct.

Officeteam recently conducted a survey and it reveals, once again, that most job seekers stretch the truth on their résumés, particularly when it comes to their job duties and education. The job market may be tough right now, but job seekers should refrain from embellishing their résumés as they will be found out, sooner or later.

Here are some tips that Officeteam has offered to employers on how they can verify information on résumés. Job seekers should take note:

1. Watch for ambiguity. When reviewing resumes, question vague descriptions of skills (e.g., “familiar with,” “involved in”) which may be signs that a professional is trying to hide a lack of relevant work experience.
2. Ask once, ask twice. Pose interview questions that relate to specific skills needed. For example, if a candidate must know a particular software program, ask how he or she has used the technology in previous roles. If an applicant’s response is ambiguous, don’t be afraid to rephrase the question.
3. Get the facts. Ask references to confirm basic information such as the candidate’s employment history, job titles, responsibilities and salary. If they’re willing to talk further, delve into their thoughts on the individual’s strengths and weaknesses, interpersonal skills, and ability to work on a team.
4. Branch out. Inquire if references know of others you can speak to about promising candidates. Also, tap your own network to find mutual acquaintances who might be able to shed light on the prospective hire’s background and character.
6.  Put them to the test. To get a true sense of a candidate’s abilities, consider hiring the person on a temporary basis before extending a full-time offer. This allows both parties to assess whether the position is a fit.

How about you? Do you embellish, or have you lied on your résumé? Do you know anyone who does? Add your voice here!

Source: Officeteam

Related post: Lying on Résumés Alarmingly Common

How to Address Gaps in Your Employment

Several of my clients are professional immigrants, aka Internationally Educated Professionals. While they are trying to navigate and understand the job search maze, they are either not working or they are working in survival jobs. Invariably, these jobs are not related to their professions, and some prefer not to mention such jobs on their resumes. Those who haven’t yet found a job face the same challenge – how to account for their time away from the job market.

In a recent survey, a group of Canadian HR professionals and hiring managers were asked “How should candidates address gaps in their employment history?” Nearly thirty-six percent (35.9%) said they should include a statement in the ‘work experience’ section and twenty-three percent (23.4%) indicated that they should give an explanation in a cover letter. Sixteen percent (15.6%) said that candidates should explain (in a chronological resume) where the gap occurred, or they should fill the gap with professional development. From this statistic, it is safe to conclude that 75% of respondents want you to account for the gap.

While keeping the hiring managers’ preferences in mind, here are some additional ways to compensate for, or explain gaps in your employment:

  1. Prepare to tell stories about what you have learned in the survival job without focusing on the title
  2. Register with employment agencies to get some short-term assignments, or look for freelance projects
  3. Use the functional resume format to emphasize notable skills and accomplishments gained from a number of jobs
  4. Arrange practice interview sessions with a family member or friend and make sure you are prepared to answer the ‘gap’ question
  5. Reflect on some activities you have been involved in and see if you can link those activities to the company’s business strategy
  6. Remind yourself that unpaid work is ‘experience’
  7. Attend industry-related seminars, engage in professional development activities or gain an additional certification

Employers understand that there are various reasons why someone may have gaps in his or her employment history. Just be honest about it, and always steer the conversation back to the value benefits they would derive from having you on board.

 

 

Is There Value in a Cover Letter?

Henry Ford said, Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” The same hold true for cover letters – whether you send one or not, you are right, or maybe! It is quite common to hear that 50 per cent of recruiters and hiring managers do not read cover letters; they go straight to the resume. Because of this, many job seekers just submit a résumé. Or, an ad asks to ‘fax your résumé’ and the job seeker faxes only the résumé. They rarely think about the other 50 per cent of recruiters who do read cover letters.

I advise job seekers to always include a cover letter. It’s better to include one and it’s not read than to omit it, and it misses the eyes of the other 50 per cent who do read them.

Recently, I was reading a blog post about cover letters in the Harvard Business Review, and the conversation was centred around cover letters! Should one be included with the résumé? This post garnered a lot of responses for and against. The writer, David Silverman, said that there were really only a few times to use a cover letter:

  1. When you know the name of the person hiring
  2. When you know something about the job requirement
  3. When you’ve been personally referred (which might include 1 and 2)

While most people agreed with the three reasons he stated, many of us were not impressed with the letter he quoted as being “The best cover letter I ever received.” It was no different, in my opinion, from a generic cover letter addressed to “Dear Sir/Madam”.

That said, one comment that got my attention was from a hiring manager. He was responding to comment by another individual, and wrote , “I would have to respectfully disagree with the comment that cover letters are a waste of time. A succinct, well-written cover letter that is laser-targeted to my specific job opening is rare and really gets my attention. And this is the real secret: the cover letter HAS to be well-written and it HAS to be targeted to my specific opening.

I couldn’t have said it better: “A succinct, well-written cover letter that is laser-targeted to my specific job opening is rare and really gets my attention.” In a survey I conducted recently with Canadian HR managers and recruiters, thirty eight percent (38.1%) said candidates must submit a cover letter for each application while thirty percent (30.2%) had no preference. Approximately sixteen percent (15.9%) said they could be useful for information not included on the resume if they add value.

What are your thoughts? Is there value in a cover letter? Join the debate by commenting below:

Source:

http://blogs.hbr.org/silverman/2009/06/the-best-cover-letter.html

Social Media Tools for Job Search is not Popular with Canadians

In a survey conducted by The Wright Career Solution in 2010, 65.6 percent of hiring managers and recruiters use social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) to look for candidates, yet in another survey by the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC), almost half (46%), of Canadians report that they do not use, nor are they interested in using social media to advance their career goals. What a disconnect!

Get a copy of The Wright Career Solution’s report here: Survey Results of Canadian Hiring Managers and CERIC’s at  Public Perception of Career Development and the Workplace.

Feel free to add your thoughts here

Survey on Canadian Resume & Interview Trends

Whether we are career coaches, professional resume writers or job seekers, we want to know what’s current and what’s out-of-date when it comes to resumes and interviews. Here is an opportunity for recruiters and hiring managers from across Canada to have their say and let us know what they look for in resumes; whether they bother to read cover letters, and what are their pet peeves.

Please complete this short survey at Canadian Resume & Interview Trends, and pass it along to others in your network.

Thanks. I will be sharing the results in the next few weeks.