Thursday, April 1, 2010

IEDs in the Resume World. Incorrect Employment Dates.

For the purpose of today's post, I'm going to assume that at least 1 person in your career has told you to periodically review your resume, not wait years before you do it. For one reason, you don't want to be put into a situation where you are scrambling to write it in a format that makes sense. For another reason, an updated resume that is also visible on sites such as LinkedIn or some job board are likely to get more hits (CareerBuilder knows when a resume gets updated, and that appears to strike more interest from employers). But simply put, the most important reason for updating your resume is this: details become fuzzy the more removed you are from them, and those details could be your undoing in a selection process.

So what's all the fuss about? The recent SHRM survey, "Background Checking: Conducting Reference Background Checks (2010)," cited an amazing statistic:
64% of HR professionals reported that during background reference checks, inaccurate dates of previous employment, as provided by employees had the most impact on their decision to not extend a job offer. Keep in mind that while most organizations, 66% surveyed in the Midwest, have policies on obtaining consent from the applicant before proceeding with a background check, not all of them do.

I refer to incorrect employment dates as IEDs. While not the same as those our military encounters, these can be detrimental and explosive to your job search. And you may never even know.

Now that sounds like reason enough to get keep or get your resume updated, doesn't it?

It isn't all about wonderful attitudes, perfect smiles, and organizational and job fit. You need to get your facts straight; this is your first impression in showing your honesty and attention to detail. Don't blow it; however, if for any reason you need employment dates (or any details) to appear one way on your resume, you should at least explain that you aren't intentionally misleading anyone. The explanation may just be too long to put on a resume, or the exact details of the employment might've fallen into the confusing zone of employee/independent contractor.

Italian poet Cesare Pavese seems to have said it correctly: "We don't remember days; we remember moments." Unfortunately, not all resumes are written by a poet, and some applications have required fields that expect dates, not characters. You must stick to the facts and realize that someone is going to eventually check up on you.

I'd love to hear what you have to say.

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