Thought one: Don't lie. Even a small lie.
Thought two: Get in front of it early.
Why is the topic of executive candidates having lies on their resumes on my mind? I got an email from a friend who wanted some help for a relative. The topic? The relative was an executive level pro who claimed an undergraduate degree when he didn't have one, got deep into an interview process, was told he was the selected candidate and then was told they'd be doing the standard background check including educational verification.
Houston, he had a problem.
Most of you are recruiters and HR pros. You expect educational verification as part of the process. But there are masses who don't understand that is coming and, in an effort to pump up the resume, can't resist putting "B.S." on the resume in front of the school.
Even if it's truly BS.
So, here's the cheat sheet of how to handle a lie on your resume if you're an executive candidate and you're deep in the process:
1. Get to the hiring executive who wants to hire you in the search and explain the situation, take accountability and be human.
2. See #1
3. See #1
4. Alternative: Pull out of the search before the background check comes. Learn that every search with a company of note is going to end with a background check.
If you find yourself in this situation, you still have a chance to get the job, but not without complete honesty and transparency. That hiring executive who wants to hire you? He/she is about to be embarrassed big time. BUT - that doesn't mean you're still not a viable hire and that they won't want you on the team, especially if your experience rocks.
But you'll never know until you have the conversation. Set up some time to talk with them. Tell them the situation, fall on the sword, call yourself insecure about the degree issue and most importantly - volunteer to pull out as a candidate OR do what's necessary to put a new resume into the system of record.
Some rightfully will tell you to beat it, but they appreciate the fact you got in front of it to save them from looking like a fool.
But some will say, "Wait a second, you came forward. Let me think about what we can do to fix this. I don't want to give up on you as a candidate, especially with all the experience."
Be like Depeche Mode and implement the Policy of Truth. That's right: Depeche Mode for all you 40-somethings. Kids - look it up.