How to make your work history sound better without lying in your resume

Details | Milestones | Links | Copy your predecessor's resume | Strip out employment gaps | Harmless lies | Excluding work history entirely

How to make your work history sound better without lying in your resume
Impress your interviewer with a strong work history (without lying).
Job applicants sometimes want to lie, but know they can't and shouldn't. Don't do it. Embellishing your resume has consequences. There are legitimate ways to make your work history shine without flouting rules.

The job market is tough. It seems like everyone knows about the weak economy and how many people are out of work. As a result, it’s getting harder to find jobs that are a good fit for your skills and qualifications. Most companies care to only fill the post than to appreciate tenacity (grit) of people who braved hard times. People's careers have ups and downs. Yet, HR tends to only filter people who have clean work histories and great work behind them. As such, some of us resort to lie in our own resume to make us seem better.

Here are some tips on how to do that without making things look suspicious (or breaking any rules).

Elaborate with more details. Details explain the gravity of your work responsibilities and make you look better.

As a job seeker, you want to make sure that companies want to hire you. One way to do that is by explaining the gravity of your work responsibilities. Don't just copy and paste your job description as per your employment contract. That isn't enough. You have to explain what you do to make your next boss why you are good at what you do, and so he has to pick you.

Your potential employer wants to know what you have done before, so give them more in depth details about your past work history. These details go beyond what's publicly available. Skip using bullet points. Skip using short phrases.

Go with longer paragraphs when elaborating key aspects of your previous job when writing and preparing your resume. In doing this, you are giving yourself the chance to emphasize the specific skills or knowledge that you have. Do not sell yourself short. Bullet points and short phrases may seem neat and tidy but you end up condensing the info so much that you oversimplify the job you've done.

Elaborate more. Don't make your work experience a short summary because you have so much to show.

Moreover, the specificity of your knowledge and abilities trumps over having a long list of previous jobs on your resume. Go with content and substance. Through your resume, you want them to know how much value you will be able to provide them as soon as possible.

List the specific dates of key milestones - promotion, projects, etc.

If you want to make your work history look better, start by listing the dates of key milestones.

This will show that you’ve been in a company for an extended period of time and shows that you know what you have been doing (a.k.a domain expertise). Further, it shows that your career has had a good amount of progression and you are good at your job. This can compel your next boss to give you a bigger role and thus, more pay.

Having specific dates (month and year) written in your resume will be even better than just listing the year on its own. The exact dates will show the interviewer the time horizon over which you have had professional development. You also will be able to show you were on a fast track or there was consistency in your career milestones.

The best way to make your previous work experiences look better is to link them together. This can show that you’re a career-driven individual who continues to learn and grow.

For example, if you worked at a company before and then went on to work at another company, you could say that the skills you learned in your previous position helped you land the job at the new company. That way, it looks like your experience and skill set have progressed over time rather than staying stagnant.

This is career development and growth.

You can also connect your work history by mentioning working in similar industries or with people who are still around (past co-workers). For example, if you worked as a nurse before, mention how your prior experience helped you land a job in nursing again.

If you were an accountant for a few years but then switched careers for another accounting position, mention how your skill set is critical even when there are different duties involved. Lastly, remember not to exaggerate! You don’t want to appear dishonest by making claims about work experience that aren’t true.

Planning this out early in the passive resume submission stage is easier. It's less tense. There's no immediate demand for an explanation or sudden interview questions that can throw you off.

Emulate your predecessor’s resume: paraphrase good points from their LinkedIn profile

If you can’t change your previous positions yourself, you can mimic them. To emulate someone else’s resume, consider paraphrasing their good points from their LinkedIn profile.

Copy their resume. (But don't plagarise.)

For example, if the person has a diverse work history, you could write in your own experience with different companies. Paraphrase and re-write key ideas they have and put it in your own resume.

If they have a lot of certifications, mention some of that in your own bio. Or if you don't have those certificates, then apply, study and earn them. Having the same certificates puts you on a similar career path. Owning similar certificates as your predecessor makes your quality of experience appear more comprehensive.


How to explain employment gaps and do they affect work history?

Stripping out the gaps in your work history can make your resume sound better.
This gives the impression that you have more of a predictable career trajectory. However, it’s still important to include those gaps in your work history so that the hiring manager understands that you’re able to bounce back from difficult periods.
If a gap is too long, you may want to explain the circumstances that led to it. For example, “I was on sabbatical for two years,” or “I had to take care of my dad who was dying of cancer.”

Are there any harmless lies I can say on my work history in my resume?

If you want to make your work history sound better on your resume, the first thing to remember is that it’s not necessary to make any specific changes to your work history. Rather, you should focus on making your resume sound more polished and complete. Another thing to remember is that you don’t have to have any specific experience listed on your resume. Instead, you can focus on describing your responsibilities and the tasks you performed in each position.

By describing the type of work you did and the level of responsibility you held, you can show that you were a valuable employee who was able to handle a wide range of tasks.

Finally, be sure to keep your resume updated. This will show potential employers that you are passionate about keeping informed about current job market trends and developing new skills as needed.

You can refer to this article on how an interviewer can do well at interviewing a candidate during a job interview to understand how the interviewer thinks and what they need to do to craft and prepare for an interview.

Can I exclude my work history entirely if I just graduated out of school?

While it's true that the job market is tough, you shouldn't change your past in order to sound better. If you change your work history to be more impressive, you'll end up looking desperate and unqualified. Instead of trying to make yourself sound better, focus on adding valuable experience and qualifications to your resume. This will make you more attractive to potential employers, and give you a better chance of landing the position you want.

Subscribe to Interview Question

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.
[email protected]