3 Dangerous Lies People Tell On Resumes

By Kathryn Tuggle for MainStreet

Lying on your resume is always a risk, but some lies are harder to uncover than others.
Applicants embellish their resumes to gain an edge over the competition, but liars beware, says Becky Parker, director of services and support for employment screening for human resources and business solutions provider Insperity.

“More and more managers are becoming wise to these schemes, with many companies implementing thorough background checks by a third party to ensure candidates are telling the whole truth,” she says.

According to a recent survey by Harris Poll for CareerBuilder, 58% of hiring managers have caught a lie on a resume. Here’s a look at the three most common “little white lies” risk-taking applicants may put on their resumes.

 1. Job title and advancement
When an applicant has been out of school for only a few years but their title reflects a management role, it’s either a sign they are very good at their job or that they’re lying, says Tracy Cashman, senior vice president and partner of information technology at recruitment firm WinterWyman.

“If someone is three years out of college but they’ve got ‘senior manager’ on their resume, you start to get the sense that there might be something else at play,” she says. “You’re only going to learn the truth by making a phone call to the employer.”

Stretching job titles usually leads to lies about the candidate’s actual skill set, says Becky Parker, director of services and support for employment at Insperity. For example, an applicant might say, “I managed a team of 20” when they only had two direct reports.
“Was your applicant really an experienced national sales manager like he or she claims on their resume? Or were they a floor manager for one location?” Parker asks.

If you’ve been with a company for several years, make your progression of job titles clear on your resume, says Janet Elkin, CEO of staffing company Supplemental Healthcare.

“It looks better to show your progression within a company. Put your total tenure on the top and then add a line that says ‘promoted within the organization,’” she says. “Otherwise it will look like you’re claiming to have been a manager for five years when you really worked your way up from an assistant.”

2. Salary
Most human resources managers will verify your dates of employment and sometimes your title, Cashman says, but not your salary.

“Most HR professionals aren’t going to verify salary, but it’s not out of the question that your prospective employer could find out,” she says.

The HR world is smaller than you might think, and people talk. Even if HR won’t disclose your salary, your manager might. Also, you could always be asked for a W2 or pay stubs to prove how much money you earned.

“Is that a risk that you want to take?” Cashman asks. “There are plenty of people who would probably say yes, but I feel like it’s definitely an ethics issue. If you’d lie about this, what else would you lie about?”

If someone’s salary is not commensurate with experience, that’s a sign they’re lying, Elkin says.

“HR professionals know the market for your position. If you have a salary that’s way off from the norm, they’re not going to think you’re that exceptional, they’re going to think you’re lying,” she says.

If you feel like you’re underpaid, the solution is not to fib about your salary, Cashman stresses. Instead, detail the reasons you’re worth more.

“Do your research. If you’re being paid below market value for your experience level or if you’ve gone five years without a raise, then bring those things up. Just don’t lie.”

3. Degree or GPA
“This one is interesting to me because you either have a degree or you don’t,” Cashman says. “Some people say, ‘Well, I put in four years,’ but if you didn’t graduate, you don’t have a degree, and that’s easy to check.”

Occasionally job candidates will maintain that they had a bill that went unpaid or that they were a few credits short, but they still list the degree. That’s a lie, she says. If you have 102 credits out of 108 completed, that’s a conversation you can address in the interview.
“Yes, it’s possible to forget a bill at the bursar’s office, but everyone knows whether or not they got a bachelor’s degree,” Elkin says.

Sometimes, people who don’t have a degree will be vague about having graduated. For example, they might just list the university name but they won’t list dates.

“At first glance, it might look like they have a degree, but they don’t. A lot of companies screen for degree. They’re going to call the college,” Cashman says.
If you didn’t graduate but did attend some classes, be specific.

“It can help in some cases to list that you have some college, but under no circumstances should your resume include ‘bachelors’ if you don’t have one.”

When it comes to GPA, there is no such thing as “rounding up” without looking unethical, says Jason Hanold, managing partner at executive search firm Hanold Associates.

“If you had a 3.8 but you say you had a 4.0, that’s a lie,” he says. “That is something your prospective employer might not discover until after you have a job offer in hand and they’re confirming your degree. You don’t want to lose that job because you fibbed about a few tenths of a point.”


Ten Worst College Majors in Today’s Market

The value of a college education continues to be reexamined in the real world. In addition to being saddled with student loans, graduates and even experienced workers face a lackluster labor market. While a degree is still considered an advantage, the right major can make all the difference between happily employed and woefully underemployed.

Some majors are clearly failing in today’s job market. As many as 22 million Americans are underemployed, according to a new report from PayScale. The information firm polled 68,000 workers and found that 43 percent of total respondents across all age groups believe they are underemployed. The meaning of underemployment can vary by person, but generally includes holding a job that leaves you overeducated, underpaid, or not able to make ends meet.

Being underpaid was the primary reason respondents considered themselves underemployed. In the survey, 48 percent of women said they are underemployed, compared to 39 percent of men. The difference is not surprising, given that nine of the 10 most underemployed college majors are dominated by women. Overall, millennials are most likely to say they are underemployed.

“Our economy is still recovering from The Great Recession, and while some industries are booming, demand for work still outpaces supply for many job types and industries,” explains the report. “People who can’t find full time work in the field they went to school for often end up taking part time work, or working in jobs unrelated to their field of study. Yet at the same time, many employers report that they can’t find people to fill the jobs they do have available.”

Let’s take a look at the 10 worst college majors for today’s job market, based on underemployed findings from PayScale.

Ranking     Degree                   Median Annual Pay              Underemployment Level

10                  Psychology                           $38,200                                               50%

9                    Education                             $40,500                                               50%

8                    Liberal Arts                          $34,200                                                50%

7                     Graphic Design                   $37,300                                                 52%

6                     English & Literature          $39,700                                                 52%

5                     Sociology                              $38,900                                                 53%

4                     General Studies                   $32,100                                                 56%

3                    Health Care Admin              $32,100                                                58%

2                     Business Mgmt & Admin    $44,300                                                60%

1                      Criminal Justice                    $34,500                                                62%



The Top Paying Jobs For High School Graduates

Instead of volunteering in Africa or studying art history in Italy to build a résumé in the hope of nabbing a spot at an elite university, some high school graduates are taking full-time jobs. That way they can get real-world work experience and learn how they might contribute in a meaningful way to society.

That was one of the suggestions The New Republic made last month in an article about how college-obsessed kids may be making big mistakes by packing their résumés to the hilt with life experiences that have been funded and orchestrated by rich parents.
“Colleges should put an end to résumé-stuffing by imposing a limit on the number of extracurriculars that kids can list on their applications,” the article said. “They [the colleges] ought to place more value on the kind of service jobs that lower-income students often take in high school and that high achievers almost never do.”

Maybe that’s not a bad idea.   But if you think your children or grandchildren should take a job for a year or two before applying for college – then they might as well aim for the best paying jobs out there.  To help find the right fit, CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists International have found the best paying jobs for workers with high school diplomas, released in a new study.

As of this year, there are 115 occupations that require a high school diploma and pay $20 per hour or more on average, CareerBuilder noted. Of those, 30 percent typically require either short-term training or no on-the-job training.

Here are the 10 highest-paying jobs for high school graduates requiring short-term or no training:
• Transportation, storage and distribution manager
• First-line supervisors of non-retail sales workers
• Gaming managers
• Real estate brokers
• First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers
• First-line supervisors of mechanics, installers and repairers
• Legal support workers (not including paralegals, court reporters, title examiners or legal assistants)
• Postal service mail carriers
• Transit and railroad police
• Property, real estate and community association managers

The median hourly earnings for these 10 jobs range from $26 to $39.27, which is far better than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. None of these 10 jobs requires training, except for legal support workers, postal service mail carriers and transit and railroad police.

These jobs may not be career destinations, but they’re certainly a decent starting place.


Avoid These Tricks That Make You Look Bad in Meetings

Ah, meetings. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

Being happy at work is important, of course. Being with other people generally boosts mood, and ideally, meetings should be a source of energy, ideas, and collegiality.

But it doesn’t always work out that way. Meetings are also a place where people jockey for position, work out disagreements (nicely or not-so-nicely), and hurt each other’s feelings.

In one of my previous job incarnations, I worked in a meeting-intensive environment. After a while, I noticed that one person, when in a meeting, consistently made me feel angry and defensive—but I couldn’t figure out why. He never attacked me, in fact, he was nice to me. Or so I thought. Then I took a closer look at the kinds of things he said.

If you’re feeling annoyed or undermined at a meeting, consider whether any of these strategies are being aimed at you. And if you don’t want to annoy or undermine other people, avoid talking this way:

1. “I don’t need all the details. Let’s just get to the bottom line.” The speaker implies that others are quibblers and small-minded technicians, while deflecting the possible need to master complicated details himself.

2. “Well, these are the facts.” The speaker emphasizes that she attends to hard facts, while implying that others are distracted by prejudice, sentiment, or assumption.

3. “You might be right.” The speaker seem open-minded while simultaneously undermining someone else’s authority and credibility.

4. “I’m wondering about ____. Pat, please get back to us on this.” The speaker demonstrates his habit of reasoned decision-making, while making Pat (who may not actually report to him) do the necessary work and report back.

5. “You did a great job on that, Pat!” The speaker shows a positive attitude, while showing that she’s in the position to judge and condescend to Pat. (I must admit, I remember one incident where I did this very consciously. I was furious at someone, and at the next big meeting that we both attended, I gushingly complimented him in a way that drove him nuts.)

6. “I think what Pat is trying to say is…” The speaker shows that he’s a good listener and give credit to others, while demonstrating that he can take Pat’s simple thought further than Pat could.

7. “I can see why you might think that.” Variant: “I used to think that, too.” The speaker sounds sympathetic, while indicating that she’s moved far ahead in understanding.

Of course, a person could say all these things without being undermining. It depends on context and motivation. Still, it’s useful to think about how seemingly innocuous comments might carry an edge.


The Top Paying Jobs of 2014

Advanced degrees = Advanced salaries
It’s hardly a surprise.  The highest paying jobs seem to go to those who paid high tuitions.
According to CareerCast’s 10 Best-Paying Jobs of 2014, seven out of 10 of the highest paid professions are in medical professions.  (We’re looking at real jobs and careers here and not movie stars or professional athletes.)

Most of these jobs are found in the health care industry and require advanced degrees. This means that a six-figure salary can often come at the expense of six-figure debt. For instance, general practice physicians make an average of $187,200 a year, but according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the medical school class of 2013 graduated with a median debt of $175,000, and 86% of all graduates left with some debt.

The highest paid salary on the list went to surgeons, who make an average of $233,150 a year; general practice physicians came in second. In ninth and tenth place were podiatrists at $116,440, and attorneys, at $113,530, who also face a lot of education before they can practice.

There were only two high paying jobs on the list that don’t require graduate degrees: petroleum engineers and air traffic controllers, who on average make $130,280 and $122,530 respectively. The report cautioned, though, that “for those who choose a different path [than graduate education] to attain one of the best-paying jobs, be prepared to exchange paychecks for a high level of stress.” It described air traffic controllers as dealing with “some of the most stressful working conditions.”

Despite stressful working conditions, jobs as air traffic controllers are hardly up for grabs. The industry predicts only a 1% growth outlook by 2022.  Petroleum engineers, however, can look forward to a 26% growth outlook in the same period.  All of the health care professions on the list anticipate growth of 14% or higher. “As baby-boomer doctors … reach retirement, there often aren’t enough new doctors,” explained CareerCast publisher Tony Lee.


Don’t Ask Me Where I’ll Be in Five Years

A friend gave me this exercise recently, and it stumped me. It was almost embarrassing to realize that a driven, future-focused person such as myself couldn’t give a good, honest answer to where I want to be 5 years from now.

Then I realized that the trouble was not with me, it was with the question: I don’t want to be anywhere in 5 years–I want to be doing. This almost trivial semantic shift cracked open the floodgates.

But first, let me give you some science and some metrics.
I Don’t Know What Makes Me Happy (and Neither Do You)
In his book Stumbling on Happiness, Dan Gilbert points out that we (humans) aren’t very good at predicting our own happiness. There are multiple reasons for this. One is because we’re not very good at predicting things in general. Another is that we tend to have flawed memories of the past, hence our predictive base of information is already distorted. (For example, movie-goers’ memory of their movie enjoyment correlates better with their prediction of enjoyment than with their actual reported enjoyment at the time of watching).

Given that I do want to be happy 5 years from now, this puts me in a tough position. Luckily, I’m pretty happy right now, so I’ll start by trying to create some metrics around the types of activities that make me happy.

Metric 1: Degree of Selfishness
Every day I do some things for myself and some things for others. The “others” bucket includes my family, my company, and the rest of the world. It’s a pretty big bucket. It’s easy to get lost in that bucket. It’s also easy to be so intimidated by that bucket that you pretend it isn’t there. Balancing between self and other is hard, but it’s vital.

 Metric 2: Discount Rate
Sometimes you’re putting money in the bank, sometimes you’re making withdrawals. Everything you do has some present value (which may be negative if you’re investing) and some future value (which is positive if you have a good rate of return).

There’s a ton of interesting math that goes into the problem, but in general people value a dollar tomorrow less than a dollar today. (Ten dollars tomorrow, however, might be worth it.) The same calculations happen with my time and energy.

I am, by nature, an investor. I am future-focused. The risk here is that if I spend all my time investing, I don’t have any time left to fully enjoy the present. When pondering what I want to be doing in the future, I have to consider how much I want to be investing versus enjoying the fruits of today’s labor.

So where will I be in 5 years? I don’t know, and I don’t really care. Hopefully what I’ll be doing is a good mix of helping myself and helping others, investing and enjoying.


The Most Important Two Words in Your Interview

As a staffing professional at BarryStaff, I often help candidates to land interviews with our clients.  When I know that my candidate is facing stiff competition from other people applying for the same job, I recommend that they quickly follow up their interview with a hand-written Thank-you card sent to the interviewing Manager who will be making the hiring decision.  Recently I read the below article which confirmed my belief that, even in this high-tech world this personal touch is still very powerful.

The Power of Two Little Words in an Interview

When we are unemployed, looking for work and spending our full-time trying to secure interviews and our next job, it can feel like we are being ground down and that no-one cares about us. It can be very easy to forget two simple words with meaning that can set you apart from the rest of the jobseeker pack.

The two words are: “Thank you.”

Let’s look at the scenario. You’ve actually secured a job interview. You go to the interview looking your sharpest, you navigate the hypothetical scenarios, talk about your background relevant to their position and ask some probing and intelligent questions at the end of the interview that are sure to make you stand out. You finish the interview with a firm hand shake and a smile and then you say, “Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you today.”

This is an excellent start, but you’re not finished.

As soon as you get home, you pull out your box of thank you cards that you keep at the ready, and you jot a thank you note inside focusing on how excited you are by the opportunity to work for this amazing organization. You thank the recruiter for their time. And you sign it. You put the card in an envelope, fill out the envelope with the recruiter’s name and address info, you put a stamp on it and you mail it the same day. This is important. Snail mail can take a couple of days and in the private and not-for-profit sector, hiring decisions can happen fairly quickly.

“We live in a world of email and much faster communication,” you say, “why should I send a snail mail thank you card?”

Because no-one else will!

Your objective at this stage in the hiring process is to stand out. And a snail-mail thank you note will certainly do that. Once you’ve secured that first interview you’re over the hurdle of getting your foot in the door. So what does a snail-mail thank you note do?

1. There is now a hard copy message sitting on the recruiter’s desk – it could sit there for days, constantly reminding the recruiter who you are and that you want the job.

2. It shows that you respect other people’s time and that you feel gratitude and are willing to show it. These are sometimes tough to measure in an interview but very, very important to team-building and group cohesion.

So after your next interview, don’t forget the thank you card – you’ll be glad you sent it. It may be old-fashioned, but it works. Remember, I’m rooting for you.


Job Search Gimmicks. Good or Bad Idea?

In today’s ultra-competitive job market, it can sometimes help to make yourself stand out from other job seekers through a bold gesture or nontraditional résumé. After all, if you or your résumé don’t stand out in some way, you run the risk of being overlooked for what could be your dream job. So why not be bold and take a risk? I’ll tell you why — because there can be a very fine line between being innovate and being overbearing and even a little scary.

The key to success is to carefully consider the atmosphere of the company you are applying to (a staid accounting firm may not appreciate your dressing up in a gorilla suit to deliver your résumé), and learn what you can about the hiring manager before making first contact. When trying to separate yourself from your competition, consider these moves made by fearless — or frightening — job seekers. Sometimes they pay off, and sometimes they fall flat.

 Good Idea:
Be innovative: A laid-off sales manager targeted his dream company by creating a website that was devoted to his job search at that company. The site included photographs of himself, his résumé and even a blog detailing his job quest. It got the attention he wanted, and it paid off with a phone interview and meeting with company recruiters. In this case, putting himself out there was a good way to get noticed.

Go where the decision-makers go: You don’t want to come off as a stalker, but you do want to find out where influencers meet and join the club, like one job seeker did in New York. This entertainment industry executive joined an exclusive gym frequented by celebrities and media moguls in order to increase his visibility, and it paid off. In essence, this is like taking networking to the extreme, and we all know that networking is one of the best ways to land a job.

And NOT such a good idea:
Don’t be childish: One job seeker got a bit too cutesy with his cover letter in his application to a company in Florida. He used the letters of his first name to highlight his strengths, sort of like an elementary school writing project. (For example: D is for Determined; A is for Attentive; N is for Nice). N must also be for “No way!” He didn’t get the interview.

Always be professional, and don’t resort to gimmicks or toys. Another job seeker brought a Rubik’s Cube to her interview to illustrate her problem-solving skills. It was distracting and socially awkward. Remember that you’re an adult and a professional.

Don’t bring food:  Although most office workers appreciate those home-baked goodies their co-workers bring in, it’s not a good practice for a job seeker to employ. You may be a great baker, but delivering cookies (or candy or even office plants) to a potential employer smacks of desperation and perhaps a bit of bribery. Your merits should stand on their own; plus, many people are wary of eating items brought by strangers.

The Really BAD ideas:
Don’t be a stalker: Sure, you want to get your name out there; you may even want to hand-deliver your résumé. Just don’t do what this desperate Boston job seeker did. She visited the company every day for several weeks, each time asking to speak to a different company representative. She then sat in the reception area for hours, waiting for that person. It came across as creepy, and no one ended up meeting with her.

Don’t go bananas:  That gorilla-suit example mentioned previously really did happen. A man delivered his résumé in costume to a construction company and then sang about the qualifications he had that made him the perfect candidate. He even brought balloons. The company CEO was not amused, and the man was escorted from the building.

When trying to stand out during a job hunt, it’s still best to stick with traditional means: Express your qualifications in your cover letter and résumé and shine in that coveted job interview. If you want to do more, make sure your gesture is appropriate for your industry and for the particular company to which you are applying.  Sometimes, taking a risk can really pay off, like the MIT graduate who stood on a busy New York street corner handing out résumés. He ended up landing a job at an accounting firm.

Sometimes a little risk can bring great rewards.


Don’t Worry. Your Career Will Get Better

By Vanessa Wong – BloombergBusinessweek

Ever worry that the peak of your career is already behind you? Don’t fret: You’ll keep having happy experiences in your professional life—moments you’ll appreciate a few years after they’ve passed.

In a survey of 1,070 men and women by Citigroup and LinkedIn, about two-thirds of the respondents, including those 55 and older, felt they had just recently experienced their happiest years at work.

“It’d be depressing to me if all age groups reported being happiest in their late 20s,” says Bryan Dik, a vocational psychologist and co-founder of the career-matching startup jobZology.com. “What it tells me is that either things get better as they go along or people are only able to remember recent events well when they make this appraisal.”

2014 Today’s Professional Woman Report Question: Look back at your career—at what age were you happiest?

The results of this Today’s Professional Woman Report are not unlike those in Gallup’s “State of the American Workforce” report last year, which show the levels of worker engagement increasing with age.  Millennials were the least engaged with their work.

Expect growing pains, though. ”Developmentally, middle-career often seems to be a challenge,” says Dik. Midcareer professionals, usually in their early-to-mid 40s, “are typically taking stock and realizing they may not have achieved everything they aspired to. At the same time, they are looking ahead and wondering what they should focus on for the remainder of their career, and what kind of legacy they ultimately hope to leave.”

Flush with fond memories of recent successes, the professionals in the Citi-LinkedIn survey are persistently optimistic. Most (roughly 60 percent) believe their careers will get even better still.  The average point at which workers ages 55 and older feel they will reach their peak is 62.  And while even seasoned workers are sunny about their futures, that survey suggests that the best years for ambitious millennial workers are likely decades away.