A large part of a job search is marketing yourself and what you offer to potential employers. While it’s never acceptable to knowingly lie about a qualification or purposely mislead a Recruiter into believing you have skills you don’t, you also don’t need to reveal every career misstep or your biggest faults.
Here are some ways to be careful about revealing too much information (TMI):
On your resume/Linked In:
- Why you left previous jobs. You’ll likely be asked this question (e.g., Why are you looking?, Why did you leave ABC company?) in an interview and should be prepared to answer it succinctly and unemotionally. However, there’s no reason to put this on a resume. If you’re concerned about gaps or short stints at a company, have a professional Career Coach help craft a strong, accomplishment-based resume.
- References. These will be critical once you get to the interview stage. Until that point, there’s really no need to provide them to a company.
- Too much history. Unfortunately, age discrimination exists at some companies, so best to remain vague regarding how far back you go. Since job ads rarely ask for 20 – 25 years’ experience, on your resume, omit jobs prior to about 15 – 20 years ago. Also, you may choose to remove graduation dates for your Education.
In the Interview:
- Salary. You’ll be asked about your most recent salary or what you’re hoping to make in the role that you are applying for. This question is usually asked to weed out candidates, so unless you know the range, you’re better off avoiding a direct answer. How? Try asking what the range is and respond with “That’s in my ball park.” Another option? Give a broad range and add that you’ll be able to be more specific once you learn more about the role.
- Greatest weakness. You may be asked about a weakness or failure, but there’s no need to point out that you caused your first employer to lose their largest client. This is unfortunate, but hopefully you’ve learned a great deal since then. Find an example that shows you’re human, but not one that causes undue alarm.
- Personal information. Even if you’re hitting if off famously with the Recruiter, until you show up for Orientation, you’re still being evaluated. Sharing information about a weekend drinking binge or that time you pranked your Boss will be factored in (negatively) when making decisions to move forward with your candidacy.
What a company is most interested in when selecting a candidate is that your skills and background align with the requirements, you’ll help solve the company’s problems, and you’re a good fit for the team and culture. If you’re a match for these qualifications, don’t give the company any reason to weed you out by revealing too much too soon.
After you’re hired, you may decide to “friend” your colleagues on Facebook or share stories at a company happy hour about your last trip to Vegas, but until you’re an employee, keep these gems to yourself.