Knowing how to promote yourself consists in knowing what you have to offer and being able to communicate this. Without lying!

Non verbal communication

Lying is not a good idea if you want to create a reputation and maintain it.

Giving in to the temptation to lie when applying for a job is risky though. You could miss out on a job offer, damage your reputation, or even get fired once your fibs are revealed.

– Randi Sherman

In the US they’re very careful about aspects such as lying, copying, not telling the truth. At school kids are taught not copy and if a President lies they go after him, not so much because of the seriousness of the lie (e.g. Bill Clinton), but simply because he lied. Having said that, there are things we should also think about. I recently read an article entitled "Lying on your resumè? Her's how you'll get caught!"

1.  Your alma mater can’t confirm you graduated

I know people who never finished university or who just started. There’s no shame in not being a graduate even though in Italy, for certain positions, if you look at ads and searches it looks like it’s becoming essential. Even if you didn’t finish university, I recommend stating how many years you were there for and how many exams you passed. You don’t want to give the impression that you just loafed around…

I see people, especially on LinekdIn, who make ambiguous statements about their university education. If someone isn’t used to reading into these things they might assume the person is a graduate. In any case, if you do have a degree, it’s best to explicitly use the word “degree”.

In Italy where even prime ministers and famous journalists lie that might be a different matter, but if you do so in an Anglo-Saxon country your reputation will be irreparably damaged.

Claiming to be a Harvard graduate when you really have a degree from a no-name state school is one of the worst things you can lie about on your resume, according to hiring managers surveyed by Hloom. And while some employers will take you at your word when you say you went to a fancy school, others will check on your educational background by calling the school directly or using a service, such as the National Student Clearinghouse.

– Megan Elliott

2.  You can’t pass a skills test

Nowadays to avoid people claiming they speak fluent English or are an expert in Project Management, there are certifications. In the Anglo-Saxon world these are now essential but are becoming more common in Italy too. So be careful of the level of certification!

An interviewer might ask you a question in the language you claim to be fluent in or give you an on-the-spot quiz. Failing such a basic test is a sure sign that you’ve either stretched the truth or overestimated your abilities, both of which are likely to take you out of the running for a job.

– Megan Elliott

3.  Dates don’t add up

You’ve got to check the dates on your CV.

It isn’t something you can write in a hurry. There’s no room for oversights.

So it’s best to explain directly because of a gap or overlap in your CV or at least have an answer ready, otherwise….

If you want to use years instead of months - which I would recommend for long careers (20, 30 years…) – this might arouse suspicion and prompt questions with regard to less mature candidates.

If you’re tempted to cover up a resume gap by fudging employment dates, don’t do it. A quick call to your past employer is all it takes for someone to find out that you got laid off back in January, not June. Trying to cover a gap by listing your job history by year, rather than month and year, is also suspicious and might prompt a hiring manager to do some further digging. If you’re worried about a resume gap making you look like a slacker, fill it with volunteering or consulting work, not lies.

– Megan Elliott

4. Your resume and cover letter don’t match

Applying for a job is a serious matter. There’s no point combining a well written CV - that you might even have paid a professional to help you prepare - with a badly improvised covering letter. Many people tend to underestimate covering letters either out of ignorance or because they respond to ads which don’t expressly ask for one… In any case it can set you apart from the crowd, so it’s worth spending some time on it and tailoring it for each prospective employer.

A sparkling, error-free resume paired with a messy cover letter is a red flag that a candidate is not being totally honest. Such a discrepancy suggests you got a helping hand with your C.V. or maybe even stole another person’s work history to pass off as your own.

– Megan Elliott

5.  Your job titles are too good to be true

All too often you see titles like Directors and MD being waved around, never mind titles for less senior roles. So it’s important to contextualise.

Do you think a director in a company with three members of staff is comparable to a director in a company with 10,000 people?

I suggest you describe the professional content of your role to avoid being misunderstood - for better or for worse.

Two years out of college and already sitting in the C-suite? Expect an interviewer to ask some pointed questions about your responsibilities to make sure you’re actually telling the truth about your title.

– Megan Elliott

6.  You’re vague about your skills and experience

“Using ambiguous phrases like ‘familiar with’ or ‘involved in’ could mean the candidate is trying to cover up a lack of direct experience,” noted OfficeTeam.

– Megan Elliott

See above!

7.  Your body language betrays you

Communication involves verbal, paraverbal and non-verbal components. With a face-to-face interview, including via Skype, it’s not difficult to see if there is an inconsistency between the verbal and other components. Even when you’re speaking to someone on the phone you can tell if they’re smiling!

Touching your nose, looking down when you’re answering a question, and turning your body away from the interviewer are other ways you might inadvertently signal that you’re not telling the truth, according to the Los Angeles Times.

– Megan Elliott

8.  Your references don’t back you up

What about references? Whether they ask you for them directly or otherwise (as is often the case in Italy…) tt is standard practice for selectors to check these... So get ready and prepare your references.

Even if you find a reference willing to go along with your charade, the interviewer might do some extra digging on their own, reaching out to mutual connections or independently contacting your old boss or co-workers to find out what you’re really like. And remember, there are no laws restricting what an ex-employer can say about you, despite what some job seekers might think.

– Megan Elliott

9.  A Google search reveals the truth

Seventy percent of employers snoop on candidates before offering them a job. You better hope that what HR finds on social media or as part of a basic Google search matches what you have on your resume. Of employers who decide not to hire someone after researching them online, 27% did so because they discovered the candidate had lied about their qualifications, CareerBuilder found.

– Megan Elliott

It’s not just Google, there is also social media which are very often checked…
So bear this in mind in terms of your use of Facebook, Instagram, etc.  

10.  The employer conducts a background check

If a prospective employer conducts a background check and discovers you’ve lied (either directly or by omission) about your work history, criminal past, education, professional certifications, or other key facts, don’t expect a job offer.

– Megan Elliott

Unfortunately this is a delicate topic. You might have made a few errors. And depending on the culture- let’s assume were talking about Italian culture– it’s difficult to be completely honest even if you want to get an interview. In any case, even if your CV tells the odd fib, it is key for you as a person to be ready to answer questions and be transparent and honest in an appropriate manner.

GoodGoing! provides its experience through advice and consultancy for preparing marketing material to present yourself to the market and preparing for different types of interviews. We also have e-books about CVs and interview in the cv “shop” section of our website. Have a read!

About the author
Cristina Gianotti
For more than fifteen years Cristina Gianotti has been working in Coaching - Career, Executive and Business Coaching – supporting managers, professionals and entrepreneurs that are interested in investing in themselves and their own professional development. She comes from a management consulting, management and entrepreneurial background. In 2016 she published her fisrt book "E' facile cambiare lavoro se sai come fare" (It is easy to change job if knowing how) with bookabook. In 2018 the second one "Connecting Dots: il networking questo sconosciuto" (Connetting dots: the unknow professional networking").

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