With the competition for jobs fierce and stressful, many job seekers look for shortcuts to job search success. Apparently quite a few take the route of lying to enhance their resumes. According to a survey by the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM), over 53% of all job applicants lie to some extent on their resumes. More than 70% of all college students said they would lie on their resumes to get a job.
Derek Johnson, a former executive recruiter, has capitalized on this trend by producing The Fake Resume Guide. In his words, "I launched www.fakeresume.com and wrote The Fake Resume Guide for all those honest people out there so they can learn how others are beating them out of the job they deserve and become competitive again." How-to's in his Guide range from how much should you lie on your resume, how to fake your college education, how to lie at the interview, and what to do if you are caught.
If his message is any indication of his authentic self, Mr. Johnson's personal brand clearly resonates with lying and deceit. His on-brand guiding principle or value: do whatever it takes (falsifying and fabricating) to get what you believe you deserve. It would seem his purpose is to lower the bar for "misguided" honest people by lowering the bar on ethics, instructing them in the fine points of perfecting lies for resumes and interviews.
My mind is reeling with questions like:
1. If he were to succeed in his purpose, what does that mean for his vision of the world? Would trust and truth become relative notions, relative to one's needs, desires, beliefs, and ever-bendable ethics on any given day? Would it indeed not matter what one accomplished in a career or what one's real educational background was, so long as the lie was convincing enough to land the next job?
2. Why is his target audience "honest people"? If they are in fact "honest", would they readily stoop to fakery and lying? Perhaps the combination of "desperate" and "honest" is his real target audience? After all, by definition, dishonest folks already know how to lie. So honest people who are desperate enough to rationalize the ethics of a "big lie", like claiming a college education they do not possess, would seem to be his real niche customers.
3. Will he produce a sequel The Fake Resume Guide II for strategies and tips on how to maintain the web of lies woven in the job-winning resume and interview? Or will honest folks be left to their own devices, once hired on the basis of lies, to sweat out every day worried about when all the lies will come crashing in on them?
4. According to William Arruda, personal branding guru and pioneer of The Reach Branding Club, your personal brand is your "unique promise of value". What is Mr. Johnson's personal brand stand for - what is HIS "unique promise of value"?
Guy Kawasaki (former product manager for Apple Computer), an author of books like The Art of the Start and Selling the Dream and a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, in his blog article "The Art of Branding" says, "Seize the high ground. Establish your brand on positive attributes...If you want to beat your competition, establish an uplifting brand..."
Karen Post, The Branding Diva and author of Brain Tattoos, Creating Unique Brands that Stick to Customers' Minds, says that "brand equity is earned by adhering to a simple platform of good brand behavior". One of her brand equity builders is "uphold stellar integrity in brand promotion and performance, and in your relationships with brand buyers".
Personal branding is more than just marketing yourself - it represents your authentic self to the potential "buyer". What do you want to be known for? Is it uplifting AND desireable to an employer? With positive personal branding, your strongest attributes and values can separate you from the crowd. Why not learn how to clarify and communicate those authentic strengths, instead of living a lie?