By:  John Holmgen   

Be honest and forthright in your resume and job application information.

We all have our human flaws and we all need to feel important.

Why would we not make our jobs more significant they really were?

That means exaggerating your job and what you accomplished.

Do not get into flights of fancy about your experience.  Potential employers hire you for what your accomplishments can do for them.

In the real job market, however, potential employers check references.

Anything other than the unvarnished truth will bite you.

If your employment history is a straight line record of accomplishment, great!  Lucky, or talented, you.

However, that’s not typical of most people.  Most change jobs for perceived alternative opportunities.  Sometime, too frequently.

Face up to your real, objective employment record.  It’s probably not as pretty as you’d like.  But get it out on the table and emphasize the skills you can bring to the organization. It is absolutely the best thing you can do.

I’ve written elsewhere about not being excessively modest, either.  Just stick to the truth and underline your accomplishments.

If you, as most have, a blemish in your background history, it is WAY better that you make that known than to have it discovered later in a background check.

Note: Keep this in mind.  When I was hiring people, I felt that if the candidate had 75 – 80% of the skills necessary for success and a stable employment record, there would be a job offer.

Cheers, John


  1. Ken Musto on January 21, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Hi John,
    I agree with you on being honest about experience and responsibilities. I have never had an employer check a reference. That’s mainly because I work as copywriter in the advertising industry and prospective employers only really look at my portfolio. I was always hired based on the caliber of my creative samples. Most of the time my resume is not even discussed. However, I am currently working for a company for 12 years and my resume is being used to pitch new business. There are several exaggerations that I would feel comfortable taking off for fear of a background check. Problem is the resume has been seen by fellow employers for years. Should I just take the resume and change it, update it so to speak? What do you think in this situation? Thanks in advance for your insight. Best, Ken

    • John on January 21, 2012 at 8:24 pm

      Hi Ken,

      Delicate situation. I recommend that you completely revise and rewrite the resume, changing the wording and the look. While doing that you can add your more recent accomplishments and drop the ones that are now making you uneasy.

      Cheers, John

      • Ken Musto on January 21, 2012 at 10:20 pm

        Thanks John. My situation sounds delicate, I agree. But I’ve seen a lot of resume embellishment used for pitching new business, basically “spinning” the experience to work for a new client. And I’ve seen this work. But I don’t like it and have tried politely to talk management out of it. They’ve even changed people’s titles for meetings to lure new clients. I call it “title dressing” and completely disagree with it. I’ve seen a lot of dishonest companies trying to beat the competition. It happens a lot.
        That said, I rather keep it real! Thank you for your advice.