OK, so we know outright lying on your resume is unacceptable, but unfortunately, many people do embellish.

Embellishment, however, is a slippery slope and I strongly recommend you do not do it. Sure, it makes you look a bit more impressive, and I know it’s tempting, but…just don’t do it. Why?

If you score an interview or get offered a job, you have put your credibility at risk, and you have likely done this for a very small return even if was accidentally.

If you get nervous on interviews, very often it is because you have embellished something on your resume and fear having to explain it. We all understand wanting to make yourself look as good as you possibly can, especially with a door opener like a resume, but there is a fine line between accentuating the positive and embellishing.

I go by the simple rule of “explanation.” Are you saying anything on your resume you would have difficulty explaining? If the answer is yes, you are already playing with fire.

Anything you say on your resume must be defensible with a truthful response. Take a few minutes to scrutinize your own resume. Look carefully at how you have worded your bullets. Is there anything you cannot explain without embellishing the truth? If so, remove it or modify the bullet so it rings completely true.

A Subtle Example

Let’s say one of the components of the job you are interviewing for is training. Training was also mentioned in the post you are responding to, so it makes sense to address this skill if you have it. But be completely honest and think carefully about your wording. If the only training you have ever done on a professional level was teaching a new member of the staff how to use the company’s ERP system, that, I am afraid, is all you can say.

“Trained staff member in the use of the company’s Enterprise Resource Planning system.”

But if you said, “Trained staff in the use of the company’s Enterprise Resource Planning system (suggesting more than one staff member) or “trained staff members (plural) in the use of the company’s Enterprise Resource Planning system” you are suddenly at risk.

Interviewers are trained to ask follow-up questions. What if the interviewer asks you how many staff members you trained? Now you are suddenly in the hot seat. Even if you say “one” you are guilty.

I know this is a small thing but why put yourself in this risky position? You wanted to make the point that you have experience training, and you did so by saying “trained staff member in the use of the company’s ERP system.”

The truth has to be enough, and your resume has to be 100% accurate. If the only way you can score the interview or the job is to embellish your interview response or your resume, keep in mind that eventually the truth will be revealed. Then what? Accentuating the positive is acceptable. Embellishing is not.