Resume Inflation: Top 5 Overstatements

The Bluster and Blarney of Today’s Job Seeker

Filling out your job history? Why settle for being a waitress when you can be a Dining Experience Liaison? While there’s nothing wrong with being a garbage collector, Waste Management Technician does have a certain ring to it. These types of exaggerations, termed “resume inflation” are on the rise, nudged by a competitive job environment and a culture that insists our resume should reflect our uberselves.

While some job candidates are experts at taking hyperbole to its outer limits, employers have an eye for resume padding even if you’re not an outright fabulist. Don’t say we didn’t warn you – here’s some of our favorite examples of bluster and blarney providing HR departments with colorful reading.

Top 5 Resume & Application Overstatements

1. Job Titles

Job titles like Genius and Sandwich Artist don’t even raise an eyebrow in today’s landscape. But some, whether Assistant Director in a department of two, or Innovation Sherpa in a technology company, just don’t pass the smell test. Hiring directors are up to their lapels with jargon. Put your best face forward, but think twice about listing your job title at a call center as Communication Executive.


2. “In Transition”

We’d all prefer to consider ourselves in transition when we don’t have a steady paycheck, but any potential employer knows that means unemployed. There’s no shame in being employment challenged. But if the story you’re sticking to is that you’re in transition, how you’re spending your time during this evolutionary stage better be compelling, and include things like training for a new career or building skills by volunteering.

3. “People Person”

This phrase had its heyday decades ago, but some applicants haven’t retired their people person status either in their resumes or introductory letters. These “people” people probably just want to emphasize their outgoing personality and willingness to plan the office Christmas party, but today’s typical people person also can wear the mantel of social maven.  Translation: they’ll spend more time on Facebook than on the monthly inventory report. If you interface well with clients, say so, and explain whether your skills are in answering the phone or negotiating a multi-million dollar deal.

4. “Results-Oriented”

Many applicants showcase their value with strong phrases like “results-oriented”. Trouble is, this can prompt the red flag brigade for application-weary employers hungry for details about your accomplishments. Phrases like this are dead weight if you don’t provide actual results to support your powerful turns of phrase, and they have a tendency to sound like you’re masquerading simple job duties as successes. According to a recent piece in Business News Daily, even the mere appearance of the phrase can land your resume in the circular file. Runner up: “was instrumental in” – you better not mean playing second flute in the high school band.

5. “Excellent”

Finally, this is your resume, not a Bill and Ted Adventure, and if your typing fingers are itching to upgrade your accomplishments as “outstanding” or your skills as demonstrating “expertise”, sit on your hands until the feeling passes. Your resume is fact-based, and opinions about your awesomeness quotient should be red-lined and left to those qualified to put the gloss on your abilities – like your references, who exist to sing your subjective praises.

Have you encountered a particularly egregious resume or job applciation euphemism, overstatement or outright misrepresentation? Let us know!

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