My client was in a tough position, and she needed to make a bet. As a career coach, I had a dilemma. We chose the conservative approach, and she is back to Wall Street!
In the Past …
Pushing the envelope on your resume was okay since the usual procedure was:
- Candidate submits resume to HR and gets job offer
- Candidate fills in a formal job application with accurate information
- Background checker sees formal job application, and all is good
Life is Complicated Though!
Were you let go in January but paid through May?
What date do you use on your resume and job application?
Did you work for a family company while you were in between jobs?
Do you use the family company name on your resume even if they didn’t pay you?
Submitting your application online to get a job is a virtual waste of time (unless you are 22), as I have blogged many times. See #1 Reason Why Job Boards Don’t Work. However, you still need to get your resume into the employer HR system at some point where you certify accuracy.
Assume you pushed the envelope a bit. The growing problem is that there’s a new world order and it looks like this:
- Candidate submits resume and gets job offer
- Resume goes directly to background checker
- Any inconsistencies will be red flagged and given to HR
Now you find yourself in a tough position. Your employer is asking you to explain your inconsistency, which they may or may not accept.
What should you do?
Honestly, there is no right answer. On the one hand, if you are a betting person applying to a mid or smaller size company, then you can probably assume the past holds true. Go ahead and embellish carefully. On the other hand, if you are applying to a larger regulated institution, keep the embellishments small enough (or don’t embellish) that the company won’t really care about a small inconsistency.
Each fact pattern is different, and a decision depends upon the risk-taking nature of the job seeker.
My Client’s Win
She lost her job in January but stayed on the payroll through May. She submitted her resume with the May end date. HR at her former company, however, records January in their files. Client is asked to fill in the employment application.
My client is risk-averse. Put May on the job application and the the January-May inconsistency is flagged. Putting January could trigger the company looking at her resume and asking, “Why May?”
I’m sure we talked through this issue for over 2 hours. At the end of the day, she filled in January on the job application and took the bet. She banked on the hope that the employer would not go back to her resume since the background check would clear. If her employer did go back to her resume, she would claim ignorance that she was told to put “paid through date” on her resume.
We took a calculated risk. She is back on Wall Street.