What Happens When You “Mis-Remember”? OR Never Lie on Your Résumé!
by Laurie D. Battaglia
What happens when you “mis-remember?” NBC News anchor Brian Williams is finding out, with his recent admission that he lied on air about being in a helicopter that was hit by enemy fire and forced down during the Iraq War. USA Today writer Rem Rieder calls the situation an “unmitigated disaster.”
Lying on your résumé can be as disastrous as Brian Williams’ public relations calamity. Just ask Kenneth Lonchar, former CFO of Veritas Software; although he got his degree from Idaho State, he lied and claimed an accounting degree from Arizona State University and an MBA from Stanford. In the aftermath, he was forced to resign after the company’s credit rating and share price dropped by as much as 20 percent.
You may not be a network news anchor or a C-level executive, so why should you care? Each of us has numerous chances to tell our story – when we meet new people, introduce ourselves at a networking event, or write our résumé. As a career coach, I help people tell their stories in writing on their résumés and LinkedIn, verbally when they answer interview questions, and via body language throughout their career journey.
My key advice is, “Never, never, never lie. And now, let’s hear how you tell your story.”
When people haven’t interviewed for a job in a while, the skills get rusty. And so many things about today’s job market are different than they were five or ten years ago. Here’s what hasn’t changed – people who can hire you are still looking to connect with you on an emotional level, as well as a logical one. They want to know that you “get it” when you talk to them and tell them your story.
Do your homework. When you understand how the potential employer thinks and his or her issues, and you’ve done your research to learn as much as you can about the job situation you’d be stepping into, you can position your story in language that connects you to the hiring manager.
Here’s one example. Often there is an interview question about something you’ve experienced that didn’t quite go how you’d have liked it to. The potential employer wants to know that you’ve learned something from that experience and won’t repeat it again. The tough part is, how do you reveal something negative about yourself without jinxing your chances of getting the job? Select an incident from which you truly have learned something, and tell it in the most positive manner. No lying or exaggerating!
How NOT to Tell the Story: “I really messed up on this one project. I got a new boss halfway through, and I didn’t think about how she might have her own ideas about what we should be working on, so we kept going and turned out a great project, which she hated. And so did her boss. The team was really depressed afterward and I was in a slump.”
How TO Tell the Story: (We’ll pick it up where we tell what we’ve learned from the experience) “As a result, I learned that more frequent check-ins were needed, especially with a new boss. That would have saved time and preserved the team’s engagement. Since this happened, I now build project plans with more deadlines and check-ins with sponsors along the way. I’ve increased documentation and communication, which has brought better buy-in all around. As a result, my project process is tighter and more on task than before.”
See? There are ways to tell your negative results in a positive manner!
When you’re tempted to lie, or tell a tall tale on your resume or during an interview, remember Brian Williams or Kenneth Lonchar. And don’t be that guy! Stay true, stay ethical, and go get the job of your dreams!
Laurie D. Battaglia is a Career, Leadership and Life Coach who works with her husband Joseph, a Relationship Coach, to coach people over 40 who are ready to reclaim their power and spark. Together, they own Living the Dream Coaches, LLC, in Scottsdale, Arizona. Her forthcoming book is Take Your Whole Self to Work. Call Laurie at (888) 505-5762 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.