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Skip any overselling of yourself in the resume

Skip any overselling of yourself in the resumeImage Credit: Supplied

Many think sending a well-written resume and covering letter is sufficient to get a hiring manager's attention. This could be true, but getting that attention doesn't necessarily mean getting the job. The credibility of your experience and skills as well as of you as person has a massive influence on any decision.

To move forward in a hiring process, you must still ace all the following steps, including the in-person interview, and prove your ability in communicating, following up, etc. One aspect that often gets overlooked, however, is how you maintain your credibility through the process.

If presenting yourself as the best candidate for the job, you're probably selling yourself, highlighting your successes in every way possible and providing evidence of past accomplishments. This process can backfire, however, when overdone, or if you deviate — or perceived to be deviating — from the truth. In short, anything that triggers an employer's red flag about your credibility and truthfulness can undermine the chance to get the job, even if you're qualified.

With this knowledge, avoid the following:


This is a no-brainer. No, not all candidates lie on their resumes. There is a big difference between a positive presentation of your skills, experience and potential, and making up job duties that you didn't do, or skills and qualifications that you don't have.

How would the hiring manager know? First of all, if the hiring manager is experienced in the field — and this person probably is — it is easy to see through the holes of how you present this experience that you don't really have. Detecting signs that this experience doesn't seem right will trigger more scrutiny not only of this experience, but of everything on the resume.

Once you and experience become questionable, it is an uphill battle to regain trust and get back to the top of the stack of shortlisted candidate.


If you are trying to hide a bad experience with an employer or a less-than-attractive position, you may resort to ambiguous statements or generalisation that appear odd on a well-written resume. Again, the best strategy is to be straightforward and provide a clear explanation.

Hiring managers are often tired of seeing scripted statements and template resumes, being human and providing explanations can go a long way in getting positive attention. And it is definitely a better route than masking facts and hoping for negative experiences to be missed or overlooked.

Sometimes your resume may be unclear, too general or ambiguous for no fault of yours. This could be because you are not paying enough attention to how it tells your story, or using job descriptions that are familiar to past employers in developing the resume. To avoid this problem, always have someone who is not very familiar with jargon attached to your past jobs read it and give you feedback.


The worst-case scenario is when hiring managers get an impression that you are hiding something. Similar to suspicions you may develop when receiving an email that might be a scam, this could have your resume tossed aside instantly.

What creates this impression is small stuff, like unresponsiveness regarding simple requests such as providing credentials (school transcripts, letters of recommendations, certificates, etc), or even simple unprofessional signs such as sending your application from an email address with a different display name or failing to use correct spelling and accurate grammar.

In some positions, negative online reviews of your services also may adversely impact a hiring decision. So be conscious of what's being said about you online and try to balance it out by providing explanations or creating a counter presence that is in your favour.

A simple step could be to build your online professional profiles on websites such as LinkedIn, and request recommendations from past employers.

The more it looks like you have nothing to hide, the better credibility you gain, which eventually helps land the job.

Building credibility

- Don't exaggerate or lie on your resume.

- Clarify negative experience and job duties.

- Be aware of any negative online presence.

- Avoid ambiguous and generalised statements.

Here are some more tips if you're having trouble finding a new job

Source: Rania Oteify, Special to gulfnews.comGN

The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor