Q. As a candidate for a new job, I need to complete applications and submit resumes. Why do I need to do both, and how accurate do they need to be? I have been working for many years. Some titles, dates and other information might be approximates. Do you see any issues?
A. Issues galore! The accuracy, or inaccuracy, of resume or application information has derailed many careers, some privately and others with great public discussion.
Who is responsible for the veracity of information and materials you provide about yourself? The same way candidates now have to say “I am so and so and I approved this message” - job seekers need to recognize that they are responsible for every bit of data they provide over the years about themselves. Excuses about resume errors like a typo by an administrative person, or a change by a search firm are not acceptable reasons for misinformation being circulated about any candidate or incumbent for any job. Exaggerations about job responsibilities or military service on a long ago completed application are all issues which can break careers, and move a high potential person into the land of questionable integrity. And once integrity is questioned, it’s gone.
Applications continue to be used because they require a signature. As information is provided, the candidate attests to the validity and accuracy of all information included on an application. For some, accuracy on a resume or biography doesn’t take on the same level of importance that a document requiring a signature does. But it should. What your written documents say about you impact assessments and judgments people make about you – which is why you provide the data. Specific pieces of data provide information about status – degreed or not, employed or unemployed, veteran or not, minority status - each data point keeps a candidate in the running for a position or eliminates them. Some information offers the candidate an accelerated opportunity, and these are very well recognized in both the public and private sector.
The accuracy of educational information, job titles, dates, accomplishments, awards, authorship, military active duty or administrative roles and all other professional activity is relatively easy to assess. Personal data has become just as easy to access, and evaluate. Access to anyone’s online persona is readily available and every caution needs to be used by candidates to ensure the accuracy of this information. If inaccurate or misleading data is displayed once, it will remain “on your permanent record”. Retractions can be made, and clarifications can be issued but the damage has been done.
Review what you make public, and if you don’t want it to be questioned by generations to come, make it accurate.
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Meet the Jobs Docs
Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is a partner and the general manager of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.