Among the phrases that throw light on our times is the expression ‘enhanced résumé’. Apparently, there are no ordinary people looking for regular jobs. Only geniuses, potential Nobel Prize winners and future Presidents are qualified to be bank clerks and chauffeurs and security personnel if one goes by what is written in these biodata.

Everybody does it, you are expected to do it, and if you don’t add colour to your life when applying for a job who will? And that’s just three of the excuses I have heard for increasing your height, reducing your weight, adding a few more languages to the ones you actually know, and pretending that in your previous job you earned more than the CEO in the place you have applied for a job.

Last year research showed that 75 per cent of all applicants lied on their applications, fully conscious that while the truth might set you free, it may not get you a mid-level manager’s post in an IT company. The surprise here is that the other 25 per cent didn’t. It is tempting to see this as honesty, but more likely that the minority have been reading the wrong books or talking to the wrong people.

The antidote to ‘enhanced résumé’ has to be ‘reduced interpretation’, since everybody knows that everybody does it. So if you are on the other side of the résumé divide, you need to subtract some percentage of ‘facts’ to arrive at the right figure. Thus, if the candidate has written, ‘I won the Pulitzer Prize, but turned it down,’ you read that as, ‘I didn’t win the Pulitzer Prize, I put that in only to impress you.’

Most companies look for someone who is not likely to rock the boat, fits in gently into the company’s ethos (whatever that might be), and can be relied on to remember staff birthdays and order the cake on the day. So if you say, ‘I am a loner whose ambition is to go to Mars and live as far away from the earth as possible,’ it is unlikely to swing the deal. To be honest, you can’t say ‘I remember staff birthdays’ either, since that looks as if the company is not interested in saving the world, merely keeping its staff entertained.

Hence the need for conveying the message without actually saying it. For example, you could say, ‘I was sacked from my two previous jobs for not remembering staff birthdays, I have learnt my lesson.'

Should you lie on your resumé? If you do, please remember that the manager interviewing you might have got his job by lying, and is therefore likely to know all the tricks.

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