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a job search blog and I've run across an ethical dilemma.
It concerns the ethics of leaving information out of a resume.
The text in the blog explaining the dilemma reads:
all know it's unethical to add made-up stuff to resumes, right?
Right. But how about leaving things off? How about leaving
things off if the purpose is to create a false impression?
Like the resume I put in the mail today for a job I'm highly
qualified to do. I'm in my mid-40s and I've had two careers.
First, I was in the glamour business in Hollywood. I wrote
for magazines and I developed and produced TV shows for national
syndication. I had "creative" jobs, the kind of jobs just
about everyone who doesn't have a creative job wants.
hated it. (OK, it's more complicated than that, but who cares?)
So I changed careers, becoming an entrepreneur and marketing
guy. I discovered that I really loved business, and now I'm
looking for a job and I suspect that I'm getting tossed on
a lot of reject piles because my resume contains the taint
of glamour. I can hear the HR managers huffing: "Huh, this
guy has worked in Hollywood. He wrote for Playboy. He'd never
be happy here."
is unfair because "here" is exactly where I want to be, and
"there" - with all the glamour - is what I gladly left behind.
I long to suffer the drudgery of P&L responsibility and strategic
cut the first half of my career off my resume. Gone are all
the magazines I've written for. Gone is my life as a scriptwriter
and development producer in Hollywood. Gone is the TV show
I write for PBS and most of what I accomplished for the start-up
cable network I worked for.
effect is that I look younger and less accomplished on paper.
is: Have I done something unethical?
*** name printed by request of letter writer
You raise some
interesting questions. It is not unethical to leave off items from
a resume. Very simply, you are focusing on a new area, and therefore
are presenting those highlights. Label the "Experience"
section, "Career Highlights."
But, and this
is a big if.... if you are required to fill out a job application,
you must list ALL employment. Applications are legal documents.
Also, many companies do job audits and may very well do a background
check on you. They will then discover those items not listed.
I see nothing wrong with listing briefly, some of your past experience.
Play down the "glamour" part. Emphasize the business skills used
in producing a show for PBS. List some of the articles you have
written. You can create an addendum for your resume which highlights
your first career.
I believe honesty
is the best policy. Too often, we get so concerned with covering
up things, that we trip ourselves up, and subsequently shoot ourselves
in the foot.
There are ways
to present the earlier experience that can make it an asset in your
new endeavors and career goals. Pull out those items that you are
proud of and illustrate the skills and accomplishments that have
relevance to your current career search.
For the record,
that is the way I would handle the situation.
I hope this
| Dear Judy,
past 25 years I have worked as an accountant at a CPA firm.
I am not a CPA, and have no desire to acquire my certification.
Several months ago I began salary negotiations with my employer,
and realized that he was no longer willing to provide me with
the salary I required. During this period, my husband died
unexpectedly, leaving me as the sole supporter of two young
I took a
leave of absence, and for six months stayed home caring for
the children, refocusing, and adjusting to our loss. Presently,
I am seeking to reenter the workforce. However it is clear
that my employer has no desire to reemploy me, and again,
meet my career and salary objectives. I have decided that
I would like to be an independent contractor, for that will
allow me the flexibility to care for my family and provide
for them financially. I am though, uncertain how to achieve
MK - Buffalo,
First and foremost,
let me express my condolences to you. I admire your courage and
the presence of mind you have displayed with regard to your priorities.
You have already
taken the first step. You have identified what you want to do. Many,
in your situation, would go back to their previous jobs, though
they were unhappy. Unfortunately panic and insecurity often drives
people to that "comfort zone."
a great degree of confidence, knowing that you can support your
family as an independent contractor. With 25 years' accounting experience,
there is no doubt you have the skills and the reputation to pursue
I will assume
that you already have a resume that highlights your areas of expertise,
skills, and possibly a sample listing of high profile projects you
worked on, and are now trying to determine what step to take next.
My advice to
you - NETWORK!! From the additional information that I have received
from you, I understand you have deep roots in the community, and
are active in a number of civic and religious organizations. Inform
everyone that you are branching out on your own and establishing
a home-based business.
you know that operates a business and would have use for your accounting
services. Others could include independent contractors, such as
yourself, that may have no idea how to set up or manage their own
books. With the proliferation of home-based businesses, and independent
contractors, this could provide an excellent market for you.
And lastly -
start contacting the clients of your ex-employer. As long as you
did not sign a non-competitive contract there is nothing to prohibit
you from informing these former clients that you are available.
This is business. Remember, it is your employer who did not wish
to pay you more. You have worked for him for 25 years and undoubtedly
it was your outstanding work that helped build his client base.
So capitalize on this.
Of course there
are the traditional ways to find a job - want ads, recruiters, and
so on. However, based on your specific background, I believe that
you will receive the quickest results from networking.
me apprised of your progress, so we can share it with the rest of
| Dear Judy,
I have worked
in the government bonds and securities industry for the past
15 years. However, this sector of the industry is becoming
highly automated, and within a short time, there will be fewer
opportunities for government bond brokers, as our jobs are
becoming obsolete. My experience has been entirely in this
specific area. How do I transition into other sales positions?
Government Bond Broker, NYC
Yes, I have
been aware of the changes occurring in the industry for some time.
However, you should not panic. What you need to do is sit down and
evaluate your skills and accomplishments. A key factor in your industry,
and in other sales positions, regardless of the industry, is relationship
building. Ability to sell services or a product to a client and
establish a long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship with
that individual or institution.
If you are continuing
to look in the financial services industry then it is crucial to
highlight your knowledge and understanding of the industry as a
whole. No doubt, you have been exposed to the fundamentals of the
securities industry in the past fifteen years. Why were you successful?
Were you able to assess your client's needs, industry and market
trends, and enact appropriate solutions? Were you receptive to your
client's needs and available to them, as required? Did you bring
in business and increase revenues to the firm?
of qualities and accomplishments are transferable across industry
lines. Regardless of the industry or product, these skills are fundamental
to success within sales.
I suggest you list all your skills, positive traits, and the reasons
why clients and your employers liked you. These should serve as
the core of your résumé. Following this, review postings for positions
you are interested in and the qualifications they are seeking. Tailor
your resume accordingly and in a cover letter illustrate how your
previous experience and qualifications can meet the prospective
employers' needs and how you can be of value to them.
I hope this
helps Howard and if you have any further questions, please feel
free to write.
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