Associate Director, Michael Page Hong Kong.
Exaggerating in your resume won’t get you that top job in Hong Kong, says recruitment expert
I’m in the process of updating my CV and I’ve come to realise that many of the jobs I’ve held are unimpressive on paper. I’d really like to make an impact in my next job application. Is it OK to take some creative licence and embellish a little when describing my previous roles? I’ve heard it’s commonly done. I was once the “Acting Head of Department” for a large supply chain firm. Would it do any harm to drop the “acting”?
Writing resumes is about being accurate, informative and concise. To answer your question in short: you wouldn’t be held liable for dropping the word“acting” in your CV, but the overall outcome could potentially lead to several unfavourable scenarios.
For example, you might mislead your potential employer by making them think that you were dismissed from the role after a suspiciously short time. Alternatively, you may come off overqualified for the position you’re applying for when, in fact, you are the perfect match for it.
My point is, if you are going to get creative with your job application, make sure that it’s suited for the role you’re applying for. We’ve seen a lot of candidates oversell their experience in their CV and, when asked about the details of their experience, they had trouble explaining their previous roles, which ultimately hindered their performance during the interview.
It is best to not play around with official titles, because when your next employer does a reference check, the specifics of your previous position is going to be their first question. Changing the job title could make you appear dishonest in front of your future employer.
You can always make your resume more attractive by ensuring the layout is easy on the eyes. Make sure your job descriptions are clear and your achievements are highlighted.
It is vital to ensure your CV is concise and informative. We constantly receive lengthy CVs that provide too many details. Trust me, no HR representative will spend more than five minutes reading through a wordy document when they get over 100 applications a day.
To make sure your resume leaves an impact, don’t focus on your responsibilities but on what you have achieved. The most objective measure of your achievement is a promotion, so make sure you highlight this piece of information when appropriate.
Overall, your resume is a marketing document for getting an interview opportunity, so always make it relevant to the particular job you are applying for. Never use the same generic CV for 10 different applications; tailor-make the content for every job application. This might cost you more time initially, but it is guaranteed to grant you more interview opportunities.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Avoid exaggeration in your resume .