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Monday, September 1, 2014

Is A Resume Embellishment An Exaggeration Or Lie? Confused?

You're writing your resume and decide to say " I was responsible for growing the business from 100k to 2 million dollars in 1 year." Impressive. But you didn't mention that your company bought another company with 1 million in sales; or that you worked with in a team of 10. you. Is this an embellishment or a lie?   

"When Do Exaggerations and Misstatements Cross the Line?"
When public figures are caught embellishing their accomplishments or qualifications, whether by exaggeration or misstatement, people everywhere express outrage. Indeed, as more and more politicians, CEOs and other big names these days try to make amends for fudging their resumes, incorrectly relating the details of a story or otherwise playing fast and loose with the facts, the general reaction from an increasingly jaded public is: "What were they thinking?"
As it turns out, what they were thinking isn't much different from everyone else. Embellishment is part of human nature, experts say, and almost everyone is guilty of it at one time or another.

Left unchecked, however, exaggerations that seemed innocuous at first could result in serious, potentially career-ending consequences. "[Getting caught] can be devastating; I think it can ruin a person," says Alan Strudler, a professor of legal studies and business ethics at Wharton. That's unfortunate, he adds, "because embellishment is just a human frailty. But once you're caught in a deception, even if it's a common deception, people won't trust you. And once the bond of trust is lost, it's terribly hard to recover."
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    In today's work environment, where no one comes in for a job interview without being Googled first -- and where small talk in the elevator or comments made at a staff meeting are just a Twitter post away from reaching a global audience -- it's easier than ever to get caught in an exaggeration, Wharton experts and others note..
       But the temptation to embellish has also never been greater, they say, as recession-weary workers feel pressured to justify their worth and a 24-hour news cycle demands that leaders have an immediate, sound-bite-ready answer for everything. 

    "The questions come when something happens that breaks the social facade that we're all honest and we're all trustworthy," says G. Richard Shell, a legal studies and business ethics professor at Wharton. "When someone is revealed to have done something selfish, there's a crack in the facade and then everyone has to figure out what that means. Does the crack reveal some sort of venal person, or does it reveal the same sort of hapless person we all are underneath?"

    Finding the Line
    The type of self-deception that most people employ falls in the middle of a spectrum occupied at one end by those who are complete truth-tellers, and as a consequence are often considered "rude and socially inept -- think of a small child telling a dinner guest that she's fat," says Shell -- and at the other end of the spectrum by pathological liars, who occupy a fantasy world that they believe to be real.
    "Self deception is something that everyone is prone to," Shell notes. "There's a lot of research that says if we lack any positive illusions then that is a sign of depression.... We like to think of ourselves as being more important, more skilled and more experienced than we are. When a test comes, and someone asks what your experience is, or what your basis for stating something is, then it's tempting to make something up." Indeed, a 2003 report by the Society of Human Resources Management found that 53% of all job applications contain some kind of inaccurate information. 

    Although only 8% of respondents to a 2008 CareerBuilder survey admitted to lying on their resumes, nearly half of the hiring managers queried said they had caught a prospective hire fabricating some aspect of his or her qualifications. Almost 60% of employers said they automatically dismissed applicants caught making misstatements about their backgrounds.
    The challenge, experts say, is not to cross the line from harmless puffery to a more damaging form of elaboration. In some cases, the limits of what is accepted and what isn't are clear-cut -- few would condone amplifications that break the law, for example, or cause others serious harm. Equally prone to reproach are cases in which company executives or leaders within an organization are found to have included degrees they never earned, or positions they never held, on their resumes, according to Wharton operations and information management professor Maurice Schweitzer." 

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    11 Critical Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Quit Or Get Fired?

    By:Bobby Edelman;
    (Excerpt from "An Over 40 Career Change: Arctic Freeze or Tropic Breeze©) 

    Still not sure if you should make a career change? OK, then it’s time for a little quiz.  Ask yourself the following questions and answer true or false:
    1. There are few opportunities for growth within your company.
    1. You find the work you are doing boring.
    1. Few jobs exist in your field.
    1. You want to earn more money than you ever will in your current field.
    1. You will need to upgrade your skills to stay in your current field, but you aren’t satisfied enough to even make the effort.
    1. You want to do something more with your life.
    1. You want to pursue a lifelong passion.
    1. There’s a new career you want to pursue. After doing your research, it seems to be a good fit for you.
    1. You want to work in a field that will utilize your talents, skills, and education and your current occupation doesn’t do this.
    1. Your life has changed since you first got into this career and now the requirements of your job don’t mix well with your current situation (extensive travel when you now have children at home)
    1. Your occupation is too stressful.
    Look at your answers to the above questions. Are you finding that you have more “True” answers? If so, then a career change is probably in order. But let’s look at why according to your answer to each question.

    1. If you want the opportunity to grow your career, it’s important to be in a company that will allow you to do that. Perhaps you want greater responsibilities or a position higher up on the corporate ladder — things you won't have if you stick with your current occupation.
    1. People can get bored with their work. Before you change careers, you may want to make sure it's your occupation in general that is boring you and not just your current job. If it is your occupation, you should consider a career change.
    1. When there are few jobs available in your field, a career change truly might be in order. Since opportunities are limited you may want to start exploring other occupations that have a better outlook.
    1. A lot of people want to earn more money. Keep in mind happiness does not come with higher earnings. However, if your career is fulfilling for other reasons, you might want to change careers.
    1. Upgrading your skills in order to stay in your current occupation will take some effort. If you aren't satisfied with your career anyway, you may want to start exploring other options rather than stress about what you need to do but don’t have the desire or motivation to do.
    1. In general, if you find your career fulfilling, that’s the number one reason to find a new career. Being happy with your job can contribute greatly to personal fulfillment which is something we all need, so definitely make a career change if you say “True” to this question.
    1. If you want to pursue your lifelong passion, by all means, go for it or at least consider it as an option. Make sure you do your homework first, though, to ascertain this career is the right choice.
    1. As long as you’ve researched a possible new career choice, there’s really no reason you shouldn’t go for it if it seems like something that will make you happy. In fact, this is a no-brainer – of course you should change your career here!
    1. There’s a reason why you got an education in the first place. Because you wanted to do a specific type of work. Maybe you just have a specific flair to perform certain tasks but your current job doesn’t use those talents. Why would you stick around?
    1. If your life has changed significantly since you first began your career and it is causing your personal life to be at odds with your business life, you’ll have to make a choice. Unless you want to do nothing but work, you really should choose personal happiness.
    1. There's enough stress in life without your work contributing to it. Before you decide to change careers, you should figure out whether it's your occupation that's stressful or just your particular place of employment. If it is your occupation, change careers.
    Of course, making a job change is never easy. Having a regular paycheck and job security is important – there’s no doubt about that. But if you’re unhappy in your job and feeling unfulfilled, are you doing yourself a favor by staying there? We spend a lot of our time working, so it really is important that you do something with that time that is meaningful for you and will enhance your life rather than inhibit it.

    Before you make the leap to change your career path, you will want to avoid some common mistakes that many people make. By knowing what those mistakes are, you’ll know what NOT to do when undertaking such a life-changing event such as exploring a new career.

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    Thursday, August 28, 2014

    What Can You Do To Keep Your Resume Out Of the "B pile" ?

    Whatever Happened to my Resume?

    Astronomers define a black hole as a region of space from which nothing, including light, can escape. I have often heard job seekers refer to the application process as a “black hole where resumes go, never to be heard from again”. Did you ever wonder why this is? Considering the frustration that can result from the online application process, I would like to shed some light on what really happens when you apply online. Not only will this provide you with an effective strategy to increase the odds of getting your resume into the right hands, but it might actually increase your level of sympathy for the HR professionals around town – ok, maybe just a little!

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BOL), there are 6 job seekers for every opening. This is the worst ratio on record since the government starting tracking these numbers in 2000 and compares to a ratio of 1.6 to 1 in mid-2006. To gain an understanding of how this imbalance affects the hiring process, let’s take a look at what happens when a new job is posted.

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    Today, each new job posting elicits an average of 300-400 resumes. Some companies use software that automatically screens resumes for relevant key words. However, most ( ex.San Diego companies) use an actual person to screen resumes. Therefore, assuming the average HR professional spends 20 seconds reviewing each resume, they are committing over 2 hours to the identification of the top 5-10 resumes. Multiply this by 10 or 20 positions – the average number of openings managed by each HR professional - and they wind up spending 20 – 40 hours just screening resumes!

    And for those of you who know people in the HR profession, screening resumes is far from their favorite pastime! Keep in mind that this same individual is most likely responsible for tracking and organizing these applications through their applicant tracking system (ATS) which, in some cases, is nothing more than a file folder, an excel spreadsheet, ACT! or a simple Outlook file.

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    It is now time to divide the resumes into the proverbial “A pile” and “B pile”. In some instances, there are literally two piles and in other cases, applicants are tagged as “hot prospect” (A) or “reject” (B) in the ATS. The all-powerful “A pile” represents candidates that were referred by an employee or “friend of the firm” and in some cases, it also includes the top 3-5% of online applicants. These “A pile” candidates will receive further consideration and perhaps even a phone call. The dreaded “B pile”, however, consists of the remaining resumes that will never again see the light of day! Unfortunately, if you were not able to secure an introduction into the firm, if you did not customize your resume to include the relevant key words, or if your resume does not offer that initial “wow factor”, chances are you will be sent to the “B pile”.

    Once these piles are created, depending on the company, the HR professional will take one of two steps: she will either present these “A candidates” to the hiring manager for review or she will conduct an initial phone screen (in today’s market, the majority of first interviews are conducted by phone). Now the fun really begins! The next challenge facing the HR professional is whether or not the hiring manager provided enough detail and metrics to evaluate the applicants.

    Assuming the answer is yes – and this is a big assumption – the HR professional then presents his recommendations to the hiring manager to determine which candidates will make it to the holy grail of job search – the in-person interview! Now the waiting begins. This waiting period may span from a few hours (not likely) to several weeks (a bit extreme). Once the decisions are made, the process continues with interviews, feedback, questions, more interviews, references, salary negotiations, background checks and finally – hopefully – an offer.

    Meanwhile, back on the resume front, for those individuals whose resumes did not make it to the “A pile”, your poor resume is still sitting all alone in the company’s ATS, on their desk, in a file folder or in someone’s inbox. The odds of you getting an email – or heaven forbid an actual phone call – thanking you for taking the time to apply are minimal at best. In fact, while a few “best in class” companies will respond to each and every applicant, the average response rate to an online job application is less than 5%!

    The first question, then, becomes: what can you do to ensure your resume doesn’t wind up alone in the “B pile”?

    1. Apply only to those jobs where you possess 85% or more of the requirements.

    2. Customize each resume to include every key word that is mentioned in the job description.

    3. Develop a headline that provides a “wow factor”, uniquely defining your area of expertise.

    4. Create 3 or 4 key sentences at the top of your resume to highlight your Unique Value Proposition (UVP).

    5. Focus on promotions, results and direct contributions, not responsibilities and tasks.

    The second question, and the one rarely considered, is: what can you do to ease the pain of the HR professional?

    1. Focus on securing an introduction to the company through a mutual colleague; contact the hiring manager and/or HR professional to leverage the contact and get yourself on the radar screen.

    2. Clearly indicate how your skills match up with the job requirements – don’t make them search for your relevant skills.

    3. If you are unable to secure an introduction, call the HR professional and/or hiring manager 2 days after sending your resume, to ensure it was received; during this call, acknowledge that you are aware of the volume of resumes they have received, and request “5 minutes to provide 3 factors” that will demonstrate your fit for the position.

    4. Send a thank you/follow up card by mail to the HR and/or hiring manager reminding them of the “3 factors”.

    5. Develop a campaign to follow up with the HR and/or hiring manager on a weekly basis.

    While the job market continues to have its challenges, developing and maintaining a consistent strategy will greatly increase your odds of getting your resume into the “A pile”. Today’s job market is about visibility and differentiation

    Guest Contributor:Ken C. Schmitt
    Turning Point Executive Search

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    ‡ 4 Tips to De-Stress Your Job Search ‡

                          4 Tips to De-Stress Your Job Search:

    Job seekers are spending long, grueling hours, hitting the job front from multiple angles, but the stress is becoming unbearable. So, I decided to build a list of de-stressing tips which hopefully provide you with some relief.

    1. Take stock in what you have. When did our personal worth become indicative upon a j-o-b? No doubt, the loss of income will force us to make some difficult decisions, but never will our income, possessions, or number of/type of credit cards we hold even come close to representing our self-worth.

    My husband reminded me yesterday of what beautiful grandsons we have; and no matter the kind of day I’m having, or the day they’ve had, we grace each other with smiles, hugs, and kisses. They don’t care about the job I have [or that I even have one]; they don’t care about the fanciness of clothes I wear; they don’t care about successes and failures I’ve had in my professional life. They care about my well-being, my happiness, and about the fullness of my “you’re loved” Grammy meter. =]

    It’s too dang easy to lose sight of what *really* does matter, sadly concerning ourselves more about what’s secondary, maybe even irrelevant; i.e. why didn’t I get a response to my resume; why didn’t I get that call from the recruiter like he promised; and, why am I not getting interviews. You can stress about the “whys”, but at the end of the day, they are meaningless.

    2. Embrace that you’re a pea in a pod. So many around you are facing the same job-search challenges, and although it might feel like you’re alone, maybe on your own deserted island, you are not alone.

    I bet you have plenty to offer others who are unemployed – even if it’s just an open ear. What’s the best way for us to de-stress and shift focus from our own problems? Helping others always works for me.

    Where can you find a “pea buddy”? How about …

    ■ Online forums
    ■ Local job clubs
    ■ Business groups
    ■ Networking events

    “Let’s conquer this together.”

    Click here to read part 2 of this article


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