Faking competence on a resume? Don’t Even Think About it.

Being caught faking competence in a job interview can be embarrassing and even worse. If you claim to be a  hotshot be ready to back that up.

It’s not so hard to impress them once

Can-you-draw-Ernie.jpgWhen my daughter was small she had a Sesame Street coloring book. I had been struggling to learn to draw and a simple line drawing of Bert caught my eye. With a few almost straight lines, some ovals and a scribble or two, you can create a recognizable likeness of Bert. My daughter was impressed, but just like every child since, it was obvious to her that Bert without Ernie was like Dean Martin without Jerry Lewis. (OK, I recognize that’s going back a while, Try Johnny Carson without Ed McMahon.)

Every child recognized Bert instantly and concluded that I possessed outstanding drawing skills. But my Ernie looks like a football with ears.

But it’s harder to impress them many times

But I would forget that when I had a small child for an audience, I liked to pull out a scrap of paper and in a few seconds approximate the iPad sketch at right. And every time the smile of delight turned into a frown. It’s not that I haven’t worked at drawing a recognizable Ernie, but something about his face eludes me.

Raising expectations, intentionally or not, by doing something well once can make others believe you have skills that you can’t repeat at the same level of proficiency. When you tell others about how great you are, you take expectations to a new level,

Employers really dislike catching you faking competence.

You’ve been told to come to a job interview with stories of accomplishments. Good plan. That is what an employer wants to hear. If you did it before, you can do it again.

But if you only led that amazingly successful fundraising event because somebody held your hand every step of the way, make sure you took very good notes. Sharing that story in a job interview can lead the employer to imagine in Technicolor how wonderful it would be if you did the same thing for them. That’s a good thing, but it’s also a good thing if you can lead a few more such events and gain the genuine mastery of what it takes to consistently deliver amazing results. Just like the employer is expecting you to do.

Get to be really good at it first and then tell them you are good.

There are two crucial elements to adding valuable skills. First you need to put in the time and effort to gain mastery. And there is no shortcut. Learn what mastery looks like and then commit to deliberate practice until you can deliver exactly that on a consistent basis. Then don’t be shy about telling employers that you can draw Ernie too! They will smile.

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