Is ‘Honest’ Overused On A Resume?

All too many times I see people who are working on their resumes insert some line on their resume under the heading, “Qualifications”, that refers to them as an honest person. This I suppose is to differentiate themselves from all those other candidates out there who are dishonest! Really? And does plunking this word – honest – confirm for the reader that you are honest just because you say you are?

I’m not sure why people overuse this word, but I suspect it is because they really aren’t reading the actual posting and matching up what they offer with the expressed needs of the employer. Of course, let me assert that if the employer has actually listed honesty as a trait they are looking for, then by all means it should go on your resume. However, isn’t it assumed by every employer that they want honest people? I mean isn’t it a given?

True, it would be nice to see, “honesty required’ on some job postings; say politicians for example! Ah but why dream and hope of things that will never be. But I digress. By now, there is a fair consensus that in order to pass the resume stage and move into the interview stage, your resume has to communicate that you match up well with what the employer is looking for. Honesty however, is like the quality of showing up for work; you’ll be expected to do that too.

Okay so let’s look at what honesty might really mean, even though it might appear to be obvious. For one thing, you’ll be expected to not steal from the employer. Yes, the Retail sector comes to mind for most people when they think of stealing; the old, ‘hand in the register’ cliché is best avoided. But cash isn’t the number one thing stolen from employers, even though it’s the first thing that usually comes to mind. The number one object removed from companies by employees intent on stealing is…believe it or not…toilet paper. Wipe that grin off your face, because to the employer this is apparently quite the bummer.

However if you look beyond objects you could drop into your bag, purse or coat pocket, the number one thing stolen from employers is time. Be it coming in late, leaving early, extending lunch and breaks, surfing the internet, answering personal emails, making personal calls, reading, talking etc., it all adds up. The same employees who don’t really agree they are stealing time from an employer, might feel wronged if the employer short-changed them on their paycheques for time not spent productively doing what they were hired to do.

Oh and me? I’m guilty of this too from time to time. By the way, I’d wager you are too. And you hiding in the corner over there, yes you. We all steal time be it in any of the ways described above. While we might argue that checking an email from our children, or taking a personal call from them to let us know they are home safely each day after school allows us to concentrate better on our work at hand, it still means we aren’t doing the job we were hired to do at that time.

When a supervisor comes in to your cubicle and sees you on the web looking for the best price to come and do some lawn maintenance at your home, how are they to know how long you’ve been doing this for, whether you are on a break, or stealing time from the employer? Should they bring it up and ask or would that appear to be lacking trust in you? How would you feel if they questioned your use of work computers for personal business? What impact does that surfing have if multiplied by every worker in your workplace over the course of a day?

And then there are pens. When a company that produces pens makes an ad on television, I hear them talk about how nice it writes, how easy it is to grip etc., but I’ve yet to hear them talk about how long the ink actually lasts. After all, don’t most pens disappear long before the ink in them does? Home they go in pockets, briefcases, purses, with clients; all most inadvertently, but if there were security guards posted at the exits each day, I suspect a number of pens would turn up to be returned.

Most employers though focus on productivity. You were hired to do a job, so do it. Invest and apply yourself to the work you’ve been hired to do and put in an honest days work. Punch out and go home honestly telling yourself that you gave it your best and put in an honest days work. That’s where the phrase comes from.

Floaters are those that roam around the office, chit-chatting and being social butterflies, but who accomplish less than they might if they focused on completing their work. Put in an honest days work, and your chances of keeping the job you have and moving up increase. Finding the balance between social networking in your workplace and consistent high productivity is a good mix to aim for.


3 thoughts on “Is ‘Honest’ Overused On A Resume?

  1. Not Really sure if you know what you are talking about – you can’t brush stroke everyone. Each individual looking for work is different and poses unique challenges. You have to know each person and what type of work they are looking for before you can make a resume for them. The people who really need the help are never addressed – you focus on professionals that really don’t need your help to find work. It’s unfortunate to read the garbage that people such as yourself in this field think and write. I have been down in the tranches for 20 years and have helped more people find work than all of you so called experts combined. It includes a full consultation, a new resume and successful job search – you guys are a joke!


    1. Hello Darin
      Thank you for taking the time to both read and respond with your point of view to my blog. Your comments unfortunately reveal more about yourself I fear than the group of other professionals that you belittle, and that’s most unfortunate. You mentioned in your reply that I work with, “professionals that don’t really need my help to find work”. Actually Darin, my clients are exclusively Social Assistance recipients who are extremely appreciative of the time I invest in them. As for results, over the last two weeks, from a group of 10 people I was working with intensely, 7 are now gainfully employed.
      I’m happy for you that you have helped a great many people find work over your 20 years. Perhaps I might suggest though that you change your tone because your comments only come across as bitter, intentionally mean and you run the risk of being entirely dismissed when you obviously have a great deal of experience and wisdom to offer.
      You’ll note I’ve chose to approve of your reply; because you are entirely free to have your opinion.


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