How Much Truth Is Truth?

Today is National Honesty Day – it is interesting to me that someone felt the need to declare a day dedicated to honesty.  Every day should be honesty day – and I honestly believe that.  Oh, come on, you knew I was going to have to add something like that in here.

I grew up with a very strict sense of honesty.  Lying in my house was a big taboo and could result in some major consequences starting from not being able to sit down for a few days as a kid to taking the car away as a teenager.

My father was known for his integrity and honesty.  It was known if you did not want to hear the truth then don’t ask him.  He was very much a man of principle and greatly respected.  This made a huge impression on me and is something that I carry with me to this day as part of who I am and to honor him.  He was also a gentleman and would deliver honesty with respect and tact – he would not wound anyone with his words yet still maintain the integrity of his message.

Trust me – this is a hard balance to maintain.  He was a master and I am still a student of this lesson.  But that is another story.

Getting back to honesty – it is a cornerstone in all of my relationships; with family, friends, colleagues and clients.  Without honesty there can be no trust and trust is something I value a great deal.

My clients depend on me to be honest, it is the only way I can truly help them.  This is a two way street.  I expect my clients to be honest with me in order that we can have open communication and all the information needed to move forward in a positive way.

When I am leading seminars, speaking or conducting workshops on resumes honesty seems to become a gray area.   Let me just clear this up right here and now with one simple rule – never lie on your resume.  Period.  End of story.  No exceptions.  Ever.  Seriously.

And there is one argument that seems to be brought up every time to try to negate this rule, actually is can be boiled down to one word: kinda.  Yes, that is a word – just roll with me here.

“I kinda know that program.”

“I kinda worked on that type of project.”

“I kinda understand that system.”

As a dear friend of mine told me once in how he responses to “kinda” statements: you can’t be kinda pregnant.  Yes or no people.  There may be degrees of knowledge, experience or abilities but not kindas.

The point then comes to how do you navigate these degrees within a resume – and in an interview as well.  It is all in presentation.

First of all if you have very limited knowledge of a process or system then for goodness sakes do not state on your resume that you are proficient in it.  Remember this – anything you put on your resume is fair game and it is like being on trial.  You are in the interview box and I am cross-examining you.  If you state it on your resume you opened the door and I have free reign to dig as deep as I want.  And I will dig, you better believe it.

I would have been an awesome attorney because I can sniff these “kinda”s out and during interviews took great pleasure in digging deeper and exposing the truth.  Oh, I could make them crack.  Don’t judge – the fault lays squarely on the shoulders of the person who gave me the bogus resume.  I just brought it to light.  And if you are going to lie to me at the beginning then how on earth could I trust you going forward?

If there is an area that you are not particularly strong on, do not have solid examples to share during an interview or as descriptive elements for your resume then leave it off.

Let’s say you are very well versed in Excel but not so much in PowerPoint then you should describe it as such.  You could state, “Extensive experience and proficiencies with Excel creating, editing and managing complex worksheets utilized for maintaining efficient inventory control; familiarity with PowerPoint.”

If you haven’t really used PowerPoint that much in your working experience but are pretty computer literate and know you could pick up on programs quickly if given the opportunity to use them then you should express this sentiment.

One element that is important to remember is you want the reader of your resume to see the correlation between what you have done and what they need in the position.

Let’s say they want someone who has leadership experience and you are not currently in a leadership role.  Before you check that position off your list take a minute to look at your experience in a different perspective.

Look at your job from the eyes of the next position.  What is important to them – leadership.  Okay, but what are the elements of leadership?  Dive a little deeper and break it down: what skills, abilities and talents does it take for this leadership position?  Organization, good communication skills, prioritization, multi-tasking – see where I am going here?

Next, with these skills in mind take a look at what you have done.  Are there any projects that you have participated in that have utilized these skills?  If you were on a team, but not the leader, did you take on some element of leadership within your expected areas of control?

These are the situations that you want to explore, detail and highlight for your resume and within the interview.  This approach maintains your integrity and honesty while communicating the skills that are important to the prospective employer.  Complete elimination of the gray area.

I would rather have a candidate be honest in telling me that they do not have extensive experience in a certain element that is important to the position than one that tries to work in the “kinda” line.  I will also think more highly of that candidate if they can demonstrate that they are ready to assume that role because they can see the value in what they have done and how it has prepared them for the new role.

It means that they care about what they do, they see their position as more than just a job that they clocked in and out of and more importantly they have taken the time to understand the position that they are applying for and they get it.

There is no gray area here folks – truth is truth.  It is as simple as that.  When you look at your position as experience which has prepared you for the next role then it is much easier for you to be well prepared to discuss this in an interview.

It is like my dad used to tell me: honesty is easier than lying – with lies you have too much to try to remember and keep straight, but with the truth you never have to worry because it is always consistent.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

Leave a Reply