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Do not lie on your résumé

Career Advisor

Carolyn Marie SMITH

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Dear career advisor,

I am applying for a job, the advertisement for which asks for experience at a level above my current job title. Is it OK to change my job title on my résumé to match what they are asking for?


Dear CMS,

It is very important that every detail on your résumé be accurate and honestly convey your abilities and achievements. Do not be tempted to embellish your qualification or experience. It is a matter of integrity. Your employer or prospective employer is at liberty to check your background before and after you are employed. People have lost their jobs in the past because it has been discovered that they were less than honest in their claims at application.

Bear in mind, too, that job titles often vary from one company to the next. However, the functions under those different job titles may very well be the same. So, instead of changing your job title, use the narrative under the employment section on your résumé to show that you have the requisite experience and accomplishments.

Good luck.

Dear career advisor,

I am very frustrated in my present job. I would like to search for a new job, but I am scared my boss will find out as she is well connected. Can I be fired for job hunting?


Dear Scared,

In Jamaica, legally, you cannot be fired for job hunting. Termination must be in accordance with local labour laws, which require that employers provide just cause for termination. Notwithstanding your legal rights, you have to bear in mind that all employment relationships are guided by what has been agreed by the parties in contract, and the code of conduct specific to that organisation.

If it is revealed that you are job hunting, your employer might form the impression that you are no longer interested in the job and further, that you are not sufficiently motivated to perform as expected. Additionally, remember it is not ethical for you to use the employer's resources (which includes computer, paper, telephone, company e-mail and time) to advance your job search.

It is worth mentioning that in most states in the USA many employment contracts are entered into under terms referred to as 'employed-at-will', which means that an employee can be fired for any reason, or for no reason. In such circumstances, you would have no legal recourse if you are fired for job hunting as the employer does not have to give a reason for the termination.

Dear career advisor,

What's the best way to contact a potential employer after you have sent in a résumé and/or application, without seeming like a pest?


Dear KTH,

There is no simple response to this question. Assuming that this is a job for which you have strong interest and you feel a strong conviction that making contact would enhance your chances, it might be appropriate to follow up after a week or two. This communication would simply be to find out if your application has been received and to reaffirm your interest in the position, briefly highlighting your specific competencies that render you a good match. Avoid making repeated contact by telephone or e-mail, as a busy hiring manager might view this as an intrusion and think that you are 'pushy'.

If you have the contact information of someone with influence in the hiring process, the correspondence could be directed to that person. Consider using your networking linkages, too. Ask someone who has influence with the hiring manager(s) to check if your application has been received. That individual's endorsement could be of value.

Do not neglect to be polite, understanding and patient in your tone.

Ultimately, the decision as to whether you follow up is completely yours. Before you do, be sure to carefully weigh the merits of making contact.

Carolyn Marie Smith is Director of Career & Employment Services at Northern Caribbean University. Contact her at