Be Honest When Writing Your Resume

Be Honest When Writing Your Resume

by Melanie Pilon,

When I'd just graduated from university, I registered for free job search training at a local Career Centre. For three weeks, career management advisors and job search counsellors gave classes on resume and cover letter writing, interviewing skills, etc. Participants also had access to individual work sessions with a counsellor offering one-on-one advice regarding their resume.

Looking at my resume, the counsellor asked me, with a sceptical look in his eyes: "You consider yourself to be a dynamic person?" He was quoting my introductory text where I made the claim, but it made me realize that I had actually referred to that particular character trait in my resume simply because it sounded good and was expected of me. I had always been told that it was a highly desirable quality looked for in any valuable candidate. You simply had to say you were dynamic on a resume. The career advisor at the employment centre noticed right away that I was a rather reserved and shy person. But I could very well be a strong candidate without being an office clown! The word dynamic was simply not appropriate for my profile. And actually, in my field of expertise, a job that often requires the ability to work alone and to have a high level of concentration for example, was it absolutely necessary to be "dynamic" in order to succeed? Dynamic writing is one thing, but is actually being dynamic a typical trait of a good writer?

Instead, perhaps I could have emphasized the fact that I am energetic, therefore a devoted employee and a positive and engaging person. As well, I could have focused on the qualities that I have which do make me a talented writer.

The choice of words for your resume makes a big difference when you show up for an interview! You could avoid an uncomfortable situation with an interviewer who would not recognize in you all that your resume had advertised…

"Candidates often provide inadequate information on their resume", explains Jacques Dupuis, a Recruitment Consultant in Montreal. "For example, some mention things like we did this… or that project was…, without specifying their own level of involvement. This type of wording does not provide much valuable information for the recruiter."

As well, many candidates tend to exaggerate on their resume. ''We often see resumes where a candidate claims to be an expert for a particular skill, when in fact an employer quickly realizes that he is barely at the intermediate level,' notes Caroline Dumont, Manager, Training and Development at

Jacques Dupuis has also reviewed some resumes where candidates would alter the truth. "They would say they had been in charge of a project, but when taking a closer look during an interview, an employer would soon realize the candidates should have used the title of Coordinator. Their work had more to do with coordinating activities, rather than decision making and supervising a team."

Get to know yourself

Try choosing precise terms and providing the appropriate skill levels according to your experience and training. Find tools to help you get to know yourself better. This way, you'll be able to inform potential employers about the distinctive qualities that make you an efficient employee whom people enjoy working with.

Of course, there are personality tests and other psychometric tools, but you can also benefit from those around you to help you discover your major strengths. Ask your friends, family, spouse, children - to describe you. What qualities do they especially appreciate in you? What makes you a great friend? When you take part in social activities, which of your strengths do you use the most? Are you the highly organized person who coordinates all aspects of an outing or a trip, or are you the one who will, with his/her positive attitude, make sure everyone is having fun and that the ambiance is just perfect?

Find several qualities using this technique and adapt them to the needs of your resume. If you are looking for a job as a culture centre worker, don't hesitate to promote your leadership and creative skills. If you're targeting a position that entails being in a helping relationship, highlight your strong listening and counselling abilities.

It's in your best interest to promote yourself with accurate and specific information on your resume. This way, you'll be able to target the jobs that really match your career personality and where you can best use your skills and experience. If employers hire you for your real skills and qualities, they will be more satisfied with their choice and you will perform better in the new role where you are the right fit!