How Much Should You Embellish Your Resume?

woman during a job interview, worried that she has embellished her resume too muchAntonio Giullem / Shutterstock

A CV should not simply present the facts of your experience, it should present them in the most convincing way possible. This means that the positive aspects need to be carefully highlighted while hiding the negative aspects. But how much should you embellish this information to get results?

As much as 85 percent of people were taken on a resume. To avoid being part of this statistic (even by accident), it is important to know how to embellish with care. Let's see how beautification can help your resume – and how to avoid pushing it too far.

What does beautification mean?

Let's start with the basics. According to the trusty Merriam-Webster dictionary, "beautify" means "increase the attractiveness of adding decorative or whimsical details". A synonym would be "improve". What does it look like in the context of CV editing?

With respect to CVs, this definition may seem particularly vague. Embellishment might mean choosing one word over another because it sounds better. But it could also mean adding details about your work experience that never really happened. It's up to you where to draw the line.

Our suggestion? Always imagine that you are asking questions about every part of your resume during a job interview. If you can talk about it honestly and in detail, you are safe. But if you've added things that you'll find difficult to talk to because they're not quite true, change them to make them more specific.

The best places to add embellishments

The right type of embellishment does not add anything to your resume. Instead, it helps you present true information in the most impressive way. Here are some nifty ideas for beautification that will allow you to get an interview without changing the facts.


Faking the dates on your resume is obviously a bad idea – and that's not what we recommend. However, you can make gaps in your work history less obvious by presenting dates differently.

For example, most resumes use dates of employment by month and by year. Maybe you worked at a job from April 2011 to July 2015, while you were not hired at your current job until November 2015. You can reduce this gap by one month to a job by reducing it. Indicate the first job in 2011-2015 and the second in 2015-present. The information is accurate without drawing attention to the fact that you were unemployed for nearly six months.

Selective information

Leaving things out of your resume can also be a form of beautification. There is no rule that every job or activity should be on your resume. If you left an employer in bad conditions, or if you did not have a job for a very long time, you may not want to include it. And, of course, you should leave as much irrelevant information as possible.


Sometimes you do not have an official job title or you have roles that are not reflected in your real title. You can add a more precise and impressive job title to your resume. Just make sure that if your future employer calls your former employer, he will confirm that the title matches your responsibilities.

For example, you may have been hired as a restaurant host, but you have also been trained as a waiter to work from time to time. Writing host / server on your resume would be accurate, and your previous employer could confirm that you did both tasks.


woman at work in a modern and colorful officeMonkey Business Images / Shutterstock

Although you do not want to misrepresent your skills, you can often embellish your Skills without lying section. For example, you may have been trained in social media marketing, but never in social media marketing. This skill may not be particularly refined, but you can always say that you have it and if an investigator talks about it, you can talk about it in all honesty.


Can you beautify your location? In some cases, the answer is surprisingly yes.

Most employers want to hire local candidates, not people from outside the city. If you live far away and are ready to move at any time, you can indicate the address of your friend or family member. (Just make sure they're ready to welcome you if you have to move for an interview.) If asked, you can tell the interviewer that it's about from a temporary address and inform him that you will be moving permanently if you get the job.

Unpaid and independent jobs

If you need to add items to your work history section, you can also list volunteer jobs, freelance jobs, and other non-traditional or unpaid work experiences. Experience always counts and it is not necessary to note that it is on a voluntary or contractual basis.

Responsibilities of the workplace

Sometimes the things you actually do at work are very different from what you were hired for or what is officially mentioned in your job description. You may have assumed roles and responsibilities that your boss did not even know. But if you did, you can put it on your resume. So do not feel limited by your job description when explaining your experience.

Your resume should include only those items that you can support by talking to or that a former employer can verify officially. This rule leaves you plenty of room for beautification; do not hesitate to use these ideas to make your resume stand out. And for more job search tips, check out our guide for telephone interviews!

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