The resume lie does not work

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Feb 12

The other day, I went up to my fellow project manager and asked how it was going with his project. The normal stuff, of course — resources, time to do quality work, making sure to hit the timeline. The resource question was the most interesting. The project was understaffed. Why? Even though there were lots of interviews, what was clear was that the people being interviewed did not have the requisite job skills. You know, the ones they said they had on their resume. He flat out said that people lied about their job skills on the resume.

Look, I get that companies ask the world of their workers. Walk on water while talking on an iPhone while arranging the Presidential inauguration all at the same time. But what some of us do is say we have the job skill when what we really have is an understanding of the job skill. When the interview comes, that lack becomes very apparent.

I do consulting as a project manager. What I have not done as a project manager is anything with Agile. I’m not certified in doing it, have no experience with an Agile project, and couldn’t manage one out of a brown paper bag. I know what is involved with doing an Agile project, but I don’t know how to run one. And don’t pretend to know. It is one of those job skills I’d really like to learn because, to me, Agile is a direct approach to software development where failing is difficult to do if you’ve done a good job in communicating with your customer what you can accomplish.

And the good Agile project managers don’t know how to run an infrastructure project and don’t pretend to know either. It ends up being a specialization within the job.

We can’t be all things to all people

The truth is, most jobs have specialized areas within the broader job title. Specialization has become serious; the generalist — as much as I hate to say this — has gone away. Companies have decided they want people with skills that are one inch wide — Agile — and a mile deep — with many Agile implementations.

You can’t fight this. Sure, you can have multiple job skills that encompasses several areas within a job, but when you look at the job description, you have to decide what type of job skills you have that meet the job description.

For example, I’m a really good manager of people. I like developing people, setting SMART Goals and doing performance reviews. Yes, I like doing that.

But I also like doing project work. There is a beginning. A middle. And, most importantly, there is an end to a project.

I don’t put both on a resume. If I want to do project management, I put down all the project management skills. If it is a management position, the management skills and examples go on that resume.

Because you can’t be all things to all people.

And you can’t lie on a resume. Smart managers will throw you out the door — and question everyone else’s job skills that much more because you thought you had the skill when you really just thought you could do the work.

It doesn’t work that way. You need the job skill to gain the business results to prove to other managers you can do the work. If you don’t have the job skill, it just won’t work. And the lie gets around. It’s not worth the price.