Sometimes your resume just doesn’t do the job. And doesn’t get the job. While it may in fact be your real resume that needs fixing to get selected, what if you have a spotty or inadequate work history? Is there a good reason to ever include fake jobs on resumes?
At this point I need to tell you two things:
- First, the answer is usually “no”. Fake jobs have a lot of potential downsides — both now and in the future.
- Second, a confession. I once arranged for a relative to back me up (just in case) on a fake job after a long period out of work. Luckily, I got my job through networking and wound up using my real work history. But I was tempted.
Using fake jobs on resumes
Despite the temptation, presenting inaccurate data — especially jobs that don’t exist — can wind up hurting you. True … some companies may never check and you so you might get away with it. Especially if you have someone ready to pretend to be a reference from that job. Like your former fake boss.
But here’s where things may fall apart: (See also: “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley“)
- Firm uses a company that checks your credentials and background. This is more and more common.
- No record of the job with the IRS. Even if your prospective employer only checks there, you’re caught.
- And if they didn’t check carefully at first, they may hire a firm to check on you when considering a promotion. The resume and job application you used will most likely still be in your files.**
- Boss / coworker might run into someone from the company, if it actually exists.
- If the company is totally made up, a nosy coworker may one day google around and find that out too.
- You might slip and reveal the truth in some way one day. Over drinks perhaps?
⇒ ** EXTRA: How Is a Job Application Different From a Resume
Best alternatives to faking resume
As I mentioned earlier, the number one way is to use your network to get you in the door. You can then explain what you were doing during the resume gaps or why your transferable skills fit so well in this job.
Tips from the job hopping post linked above:
- Number one thing you can do is get recommended. This is where a strong professional network pays off.
- Find ways to fill some of those resume gaps.
- Volunteer work.
- Courses you took (are taking now) to build relevant skills.
- Freelance work. (You can hustle to find some NOW.)
- Family obligation that you can comfortably explain in cover letter / interview.)
- A strong cover letter that highlights your directly relevant strengths and clearly addresses what you’ve done in the meantime (see above), if you can.
- An informational interview source who says it’s ok to mention them in your cover letter / inquiry email. And might even help warm up the contact.
- Not always possible, but worth trying for.
- Your enthusiasm and commitment can go far to impress.
A few more thoughts
It’s easy for career experts to sit and write about what you SHOULD do. But as someone who has been at a point in my life where I felt desperate enough to consider using a fake job on my resume, it’s not my place to judge anyone else.
At least this gives you the basics so you know the downsides just in case. Your best bet is always to lead with the truth … and a strong cover letter and resume can help you target them (market yourself) in a way to vastly increase your chances!
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