Lying Liars Who Lie….On Their Resume

When it comes to our jobs and careers, just about all of us are liars: more than four-fifths of us (85 percent) lie on our resumes. (And that number – from 2017 – is a big increase: just 66 percent of job applicants lied on resumes or applications in 2012.)

Still, just because just about everyone does it doesn’t mean you as a recruiter or hiring manager want to hire a liar. So we’ve put together a quick primer on the ways people fudge/lie/exaggerate on their resumes and how to spot them when they do.

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  • Degrees earned. Most people don’t outright lie that they have a certain degree. Instead, they hide it a bit, saying they have “a bachelor’s” rather than specifying if it’s bachelor of science or a bachelor of arts degree.
  • We see this a lot: a person who worked at a big-name company on an assignment via a staffing firm will leave out the temp agency’s name: “Administrative Assistant, Mazda,” for example.
  • Funny or odd job descriptions. This usually occurs when someone wants to exaggerate his or her work history. Perhaps an office assistant is but one in an office and so she pretty much does manage the office, so she puts as her title “office manager.”
  • Big jumps in job titles in short periods of time. Does someone move from forklift operator to warehouse manager from just one job to the next? As mentioned above, this could be the case that the operator worked in a very small warehouse and sometimes performed “management” duties when his boss asked him to.

Most people are just exaggerating a bit.

Keep in mind that most candidates aren’t out to out-and-out lie, but to make themselves look better to potential employers. Call them white lies, a bit of boasting, teeny exaggerations. This can be particularly the case when someone did, indeed, frequently perform higher-level duties and skills in a lower-level position and wants to showcase that he/she does have the experience to move up.

Outright scamming almost always isn’t on their agenda. They just want what they perceive to be a leg up to a better opportunity. Naturally, it’s entirely up to you to decide how you will “handle” such fabrications/exaggerations when you discover them.

As for the few and far between candidates who are hoping to pull a large fast one on an employer? Here are some ways you can check out inconsistencies in a resume/cover letter – and keep from hiring those who created the documents in question.

  • Take a look at LinkedIn profiles. Most people know that former and current managers and colleagues can look at their profiles; they therefore tend to keep their work history, skills, educational accomplishments, etc. on the up and up.
  • Get details during a preliminary phone/screening interview. Make some notes about the things that seem out of kilter to you before chatting. Most of us feel more comfortable boasting or fibbing when not face-to-face or speaking to someone in real life (Hello, social media trolls!). Yet we tend to become pretty darn truthful when asked directly about them when a live person asks them over the phone.
  • Double check with candidate references and get creative about talking to people not listed on a reference sheet. Most of us are smart and only ask people who are going to give us terrific references to act as such for us. So once you chat with the listed references on a candidate’s list, head back to LinkedIn and check for a candidate’s former colleagues and managers who weren’t asked to be references. Contact them and ask about the discrepancies or “flags” you’ve noticed on a cover letter/resume, or even during the job interview.

Let Helpmates screen resumes, check references and hold preliminary interviews for you. Whether you’re looking to hire someone directly, need someone for a long- or short-term assignment, or you want to try a candidate out in a temp-to-hire arrangement, we can screen, interview and conduct background checks on one or dozens of applicants.

Contact the branch office nearest you to learn more.

Making Career Resolutions that Actually Stick

Merry Christmas!

While chances are that you’re reading this on some day other than December 25 (the day this went live) and you’re no doubt now thinking of which gifts to return, why not also take some time in preparation for the New Year to think about what career resolutions you plan to make… and how you plan to keep them in 2019.

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Take a look below for some tips on how to keep your career resolutions this year.

  • If you’re looking for a new position, 2019 is probably one of the best times to do so. Yes, even better than it has been this year.

This resolution should be easy to keep: the economy next year is expected to continue to grow and the fantastic candidate market (if you’re a job candidate) or war for talent (if you need to hire someone) is projected to continue.

In fact, the unemployment rate nationwide is expected to fall in 2019 from 3.7 percent (2018’s rate) to 3.5 percent. (One caveat, however: the economy may slow a bit in the second half 2019 as a result of the current trade war and other factors.)

Still, if you’re unhappy at work, now is the time to put your toe in the job-hunt water: recruiters are eager (some might say, desperate) to help you.

  • Explore careers that might interest you. As in REALLY explore.

It’s one thing to say you want to change careers. It’s another to actually start researching different possibilities because doing so probably will take you out of your comfort zone.

You don’t want to move to a different career just because you “think” you’ll like it. Instead, you need to “try it out” as much as possible before making any change.

How can you do so? At minimum you should read as much about it as you can. Your second (easy-ish) step is to find people who work in the field now and talk to them. Talk to at least three and ask them what they love/hate about it, how they got the work they do in the career and ask what you should do to learn more about it.

If at all possible, try to work in the career yourself. See if you can get a part-time job within the field. Or freelance. Do this for at least three months so that you can be sure you actually like the profession/work.

  • Get those skills you’ve been promising yourself you’ll get.

Hard skills are in great demand today, especially in technology and healthcare. So desperate are Southern California employers for people with these skills that the state’s community colleges offer dozens of two-year (or shorter) degree and/or certificate programs that will help residents learn new job skills. Getting trained in some in-demand-positions (such as “middle skill” healthcare positions) may not take nearly as long as you think and could raise your salary, possibly considerably.

If you’re not up to two years or several months of education, consider taking short certificate programs, either online or off. Don’t forget to ask your supervisor about being reimbursed for short training programs you find online (although many online professional development courses are free).

If you’re thinking of finding a new job (or a new career), consider registering with Helpmates. We have many part-time and even direct-hire and temp-to-hire opportunities waiting for you; one of them could well have your name written upon it. If you see one that interests you, follow the posting’s instructions or contact us.

Happy New Year! And here’s to a wonderful 2019 for you and your loved ones!

Embracing the Up, Backwards and Sideways Career

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No one’s career moves straight up. Most successful people see their share of failure and even simple treading water (no movement up or down). Just a few examples of people who failed on their way up:

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  • Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”
  • The University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts rejected Steven Spielberg several times.
  • The first book Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) wrote was rejected by 27 publishers.

Yet putting aside these famous folks’ failures, all of us should know: especially today, careers almost never move ever upward and/or always in a straight line. There will be detours, failures, false starts and mistakes.

And understanding this is a very good thing. After all, think about the possibilities:

  • Embracing the fact that a non-linear career path means you won’t be blinded – and trapped by – the idea that you must always move up. This hyper focus on an ever-upward trajectory can blind you to the many other opportunities for growth that taking a different path can give you.
  • Failing at something means you get to build your resilience muscles: dusting yourself off and standing back up proves to yourself that a) you can stand back up, b) that it gets easier each time and c) you’ve undoubtedly learned a ton because of the failure. In other words, you’ll know at a deep personal level that the old saying is true: those who experience and then overcome difficulty are stronger and better for it!
  • If you you’re willing to take risks, knowing that failure often is the absolute best teacher available when it comes to life and careers can transform the risky move easier to make.
  • You may find that you actually enjoy a different industry more than the one on which you had your sights set.
  • Embracing a squiggly career trajectory (up, down and sideways) means you’ll let yourself do the things that interest you, thus helping you learn what you don’t want to do. This can be as important as learning what you do want to do.
  • What’s more, you’ll understand that you don’t always need to continue doing something when it’s not working. For example, if you find that the career you just knew would make you happy doesn’t actually do so, you can unashamedly look into a new path.
  • You may actually find that promotions, higher pay and more responsibility aren’t the be-all and end-all for you. You may find that your definition of success instead entails spending more time with family and friends rather and/or creating art and/or volunteering for a cause in which you believe than working 60+ hours a week for the glamour (and almost certain stress) of being a person of importance in your field of work. (Or you may find the opposite: you discover that you want to be the boss!)

Just remember, careers today rarely move up and up and up. Embrace the failures. Look for opportunities to move sideways. Consider jobs you never have before.

And think about registering with a staffing agency such as Helpmates. Why? Because if you’re at all interested in exploring different career paths or industries, working for a firm such as ours allows you to “try on” different industries and positions without committing to any. Then, if you do find a position or industry you enjoy, there’s a good chance it can become permanent: more than one-third of people working on assignment received an offer of regular employment with the staffing company’s client.

To learn more about the many career-exploring opportunities we offer, contact the Helpmates branch office nearest you.

Dealing with “The Gap”

While most of us will work until about our mid-60s, not all of us will work all the time until then: most of us probably will have a gap in our work history either due to illness (ours or a family member’s), raising children, being laid off/quitting outright, or even taking a sabbatical.

Known as “The Gap,” this “hole” in your work history often isn’t looked at kindly by employers. And you can’t just cross your fingers and toes and hope a hiring manager won’t notice it. Instead, you absolutely must have a good reason for it and, most importantly, be able to explain it in a professional manner. Even better: if you can couch the gap in way that is beneficial to an employer, all the better.

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Here’s how to deal with “The Gap.”

  • Above all, tell the truth.

You may think saying you decided to take time away from working so that you could take care of your ill mother (which really is what you ended up doing) is far better than saying you were laid off, but it’s not: a hiring manager can simply contact your last employer to verify dates and it’s easy for her to find you were part of a reduction-in-force or even were fired.

Instead, tell the truth; you were laid off (and then decided to help your sick mother). Or you were fired for cause (and make sure you own up to your mistake). You took time off to raise children. You were ill. You decided to take a year off to travel the world. (Lucky duck!)

  • Talk about the skills you learned while gone/how you kept your skills up.

Many employers are nervous about work history gaps because they think you’ve gone stale or that you’re not up on the “latest and greatest.” So aim while you are not working to take a class or two (online works), work as a freelancer or take on some part-time work or temporary assignments and make sure your skills are current.

  • Explanations for different scenarios.

If you were fired, talk about your responsibility in your firing (it’s never all the unreasonable boss’s fault: we all have some culpability when fired). Reiterate how you’re a changed person and actually better for the lessons learned.

If you took that year-long trip around the world, discuss how it helped you be more compassionate to people different from you, you learned a new language, you started a part-time business online, etc. In other words, show how your travels provided you with new insights, lessons learned and even skills.

  • Repeating because it’s important: keep your skills up-to-date.

We understand how difficult this could be if your time away from work is because you or a family member is ill. But if you’re staying home to raise children for a few years, if you take some time off to try something new and/or travel, keeping those skills/knowledge base up to snuff shouldn’t be that difficult: classes abound online and off and temporary staffing services such as Helpmates can help you find part-time/temporary work while allowing you to keep your skills sharp (and even learn new ones).

Take a look at our current temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire opportunities and follow instructions on the job listing if one or more appeal to you.

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