Authenticity vs. Misrepresentation

The inspiration for today’s blog and start of discussion actually comes from a Housing Sales office I have been watching workman erect on my daily commute to and from work. It’s now complete and it looks great. The facade looks grand and rich, all the stonework, the bricked pathway is in place, the evergreens lining the walkway are in place as are the lights to guide your walkway up to the welcoming front doors. However, I know from watching that it’s all for show and not permanent. Four months ago, the same building facade was on the other side of the road less than a mile away. Movers came and transported the basic structure, uprooted all those stones and tiles, and reassembled that temporary sales pavilion and one day it will disappear only to be resurrected somewhere else. It’s all illusion designed to sell a lifestyle, a concept, and make the builder money.

I truly believe that every Resume Expert or Employment Counsellor has at some time thought or even struggled with the fine line between helping a client look good on their resume, and going over the top and misrepresenting them somewhere. In the end, does that resume make the person out to be someone they just aren’t like that sales office building?

Maybe this is one of those skills that over time and with greater insight and wisdom we learn to do better; bringing out and highlighting someone’s abilities so they feel good about themself on paper, but at the same time not setting them up for unrealistic expectations down the road.

I know when I’m helping craft a resume – and it is a craft like any other, I need to understand what the person is genuinely capable of based on their demonstrated experience and education, and then complement this with the requirements of the position being applied to. A knowledge of the employer, their required format for resume submissions, key values, mission etc. is needed too. When the resume is completed, I really want the client to feel that they are well portrayed on that piece of paper, that it shows them off in a positive light, highlights their skills and attributes well, but that it is also genuine.

If you are misrepresenting yourself on your resume, you may find that yes you get an interview, or even worse actually get hired, but then you fall apart when the time comes to actually demonstrate your knowledge during the interview or on the job. In other words, misrepresenting yourself on paper does not serve you well, sets you up for failure, and ultimately affects your confidence, your dignity and your future employability. In short, it’s not worth it.

What you can expect from a Resume Expert or an Employment Counsellor is assistance in targeting your resume to a specific opportunity, perhaps some key words or phrases that capture what you yourself want to communicate but lack the vocabulary to do so, and a layout that hopefully peaks an interest in meeting you in person.

There is nothing worse than sitting down with an employer and going through an interview and then being asked or questioned about something on your resume that you yourself cannot explain. “Uh, I’m not sure…I had some help doing my resume”, isn’t going to impress anyone. You as the applicant need to fully understand every word and phrase on your document and be able to respond to and defend yourself. Employers already presume and rightly so, that you are on your best behaviour, dressed the best you can, speaking at your best etc. If they discover your resume is essentially misrepresenting the person in front of them, they may feel so betrayed that they end the interview immediately and your application is dead in the water. They really want to see and speak with the authentic you; be yourself.

If you don’t know HOW to professionally communicate what you want to say, then say it in your own words, and I’m sure the person assisting you as a Resume Expert can help phrase on paper what you want down. They may make an alternative suggestion which you should consider. However, remember you are the person whose name appears at the top of the document and as such, you should ultimately decide what’s included and what isn’t. If you don’t understand a word, ask what it means and leave it in or substitute it with another; no shame in that.

Remember too that after hearing you speak in an interview for a minute or two, the interviewer can pretty much determine if the language on the paper matches the language from your lips. Keeping it real means they can trust you in ways that go beyond that resume.



2 thoughts on “Authenticity vs. Misrepresentation

  1. Great advice, and definitely something I see my college students struggle with in their cover letters and resumes. All too often they actually go the other way and downplay their true accomplishments and/or fail to recognize their transferable skills in fear that they’ll be misrepresenting. Good post!


    1. Your comments are appreciated. Interesting that College and University so often prepares us intellectually or practically for life or a career as the case may be, but seldom remembers to share the practical skills to actually apply for those wonderful jobs.


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