Jeff Lipschultz’s Blog

I Think, Therefore I Blog

Are You Keeping It Real?

Recently I was asked for some advice by a job seeker about what to say about being let go from his last job.  He was told by a friend to say he was “caught sending his resume out to recruiters and got canned.”  This was not what happened.

Some folks who are let go start up “consulting agencies” to show activity during the employment gap.  When I ask them how much revenue they have generated, many tell me they don’t even have any clients.

These are tough times.  There are good people who are out of work.  In the past, the “currently employed or passive candidate” might have seemed to be more qualified for a job opening than an out-of-work candidate.  However, in this era of the Great Recession, the “unemployed” label is not necessarily a stigma.  Many good employers know there are good candidates out there who have been victims of times.

With this in mind, job seekers, I implore you to KEEP IT REAL.

Lying or misinformation can often lead you down a bad path.  It is easier than you might think these days to connect with those who can confirm/dispute your past. Even if your “untruths” are not discovered until after being hired, the employer most likely will opt to fire you for this lack of good judgment.  This would only compound your resume detractors.  A very short tenure is even harder to explain, isn’t it?

Present your situation factually, and highlight the positives of your last employment.  If you were fired, you’ll need to share what you’ve learned from the experience and how it has shaped your career decisions going forward.  If it was a bad fit, then explain what a good fit for you looks like (it should be a perfect match if you’re doing your homework).  And if you were laid off, realize this is not uncommon right now.  You might be asked what prompted the layoff and/or why you were included.

Perhaps this is common sense to most.  That’s good.  For those who need the reminder, do your best to present yourself in the best light.  There is something to be said for good character and integrity.

Author’s note: This may be a topic that prompts your own thoughts on the subject.  Feel free to leave a comment for others to learn from.

Related post:  Are You Keeping It Real? Part 2


September 14, 2009 - Posted by | General Musings, Interviewing 101, Job Search, Resume Writing


  1. Agree 100% on keeping it real. My advice to job seekers is to think like a salesperson. Do deep research. Find the value that you bring. And personalize the message.

    I just set a lunch meeting with a CEO — never once asked for a job. Just wowwed him with something we have in common and my killer website. Meeting can lead to lots of things.

    Total candor — I’m featured in Jill Konrath’s new book, Get Back to Work Faster.

    Comment by jefflogden59 | September 14, 2009 | Reply

  2. Thank you Jeff – As a business owner myself, I have come to the realisation that “common sense” to me is not common with everyone. I encourage people to follow your advice in this post, as “keeping it real” is much better in the long run. Not being honest or real is a recipe for disaster later. I welcome genuine people rather than those who wear masks that end up just coming off and showing the true colours later.

    Comment by chiropam | September 14, 2009 | Reply

  3. Very good advice Jeff! A couple of years ago the CEO of Texas Instruments was canned because it was discovered that he lied on his resume claiming a degree that he didn’t have.

    Being honest is the best way not to get burned, plus you’ll SWAN (Sleep Well At Night).

    Comment by Harry Urschel | September 15, 2009 | Reply

    • Agreed, Harry. This advice is for all levels–all the way to the top. By the way, I think you meant RadioShack:

      Comment by jefflipschultz | September 15, 2009 | Reply

  4. It all seems to all come back to the Golden Rule and the current wisdom of what you give out you get back. If you have to lie to get a job, or be somebody else, then either you or the job are wrong for each other.

    The aphorism “honesty is the best policy” is as true today as it ever was, and with an Internet that never forgets, yesterdays lie is tomorrows disaster waiting to happen.

    Comment by Bill Vick | September 15, 2009 | Reply

  5. Great reminder! Conservatively speaking, with 1 out of 10 working age Americans out of work, there is no shame in saying you were let go. It is a sign of the times. Focus on the positive, the value and experience and skills you bring to the right opportunity and convey to your audience that hiring you is not a risk.

    There are many resources available, including following the people contributing to this article. I also have free information for job seekers available at

    Comment by Sean | September 15, 2009 | Reply

  6. I could not agree with you more. Keep it real, keep it genuine. If you start to “spin” the details it comes across disingenuous.

    Comment by Gretchen | September 15, 2009 | Reply

  7. In this world of what goes around comes around it’s probably not worh it to take the risk. There’s always someone who knows someone that knows something. Why live with a monkey on your back when you can SWAN as Harry said. I’m definitely not a goody two shoes and in fact I had some things to say about dishonesty recently over a little convo with Tory Johnson but I don’t judge. I don’t condone either. I have, however, had to be the one to separate employees when background/reference checks come back negative. It sucks. Don’t do that to me.

    Comment by Karla | September 15, 2009 | Reply

  8. This article is right on point. The truth stands on its own.

    Comment by Stephen Hinton | September 15, 2009 | Reply

  9. As a fellow recruiter, I too am hearing about how some are trying to become more creative in their lies. We know this is not a great strategy and in the end will hurt them.

    Stay the course!

    Comment by David Benjamin | September 16, 2009 | Reply

  10. Thanks for the good tips, as always, Jeff. The honest, straightforward approach is definitely best. My only caveat is that job seekers should think first about how best to present their situation. Find a way to get to the point, and don’t offer up details that aren’t asked for. You can still be strategic in your response without lying. I believe that is called good marketing.

    Comment by Sheree Van Vreede (@rezlady) | September 17, 2009 | Reply

  11. I’m a business owner and I agree with this 150 percent! Our culture is about being bold and transparent, even when it’s hard. If you interview with us, and aren’t honest about your past and we find out after you’ve been hired, we’ll fire you on the spot.

    Plus, I so much more respect the person who can be honest about their weaknesses. We’re all human beings. We all get fired at some point – either from our job or by a client. It’s life. Be honest about it.

    Comment by Gini Dietrich | September 17, 2009 | Reply

  12. […] post: Are You Keeping It Real? Technorati Tags: […]

    Pingback by Are You Keeping It Real? Part 2 « Jeff Lipschultz’s Blog | April 19, 2010 | Reply

  13. What a great post Jeff! Thanks! And keep them coming!

    Comment by Stacey Burke | July 15, 2010 | Reply

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