Brutal Honesty: It might get you the Job!

So your resume states you can make timely decisions, even in crisis situations.  The truth is you welt under the pressure and can’t handle stress.  On your cover letter, you list yourself as the ideal candidate with all the qualifications.  Factually, you got fired from your last job for failure to produce!

We’ve all “fluffed” our resumes and cover letters to look more appealing to potential employers.  We’ve added special talents, specific trainings and personal achievements.  Everyone does this to set themselves apart from their competition!  But what if we just present ourselves with brutal honesty?  Would we still be appealing to employers?

Recently, an undergraduate finance student chose to be brutally honest in his cover letter, as he applied for a summer internship with a firm that specializes in investment banking.  In his cover letter, he boldly exclaimed that he had no “unbelievably special skills” or “genius eccentricities”, but rather a near perfect GPA and a promise to work hard.  He asked for no pay and was willing to get the coffee or pick-up the dry cleaning.  His objective was to be around some of the best investment bankers in the business and spend the summer learning from their experiences.  This bold move paid dividends, as the young man not only got the internship, but his cover letter was viewed by millions of people and praised by some of the highest businessman in the banking industry.

But can this work in any situation?  As an experienced retail manager of 15+ years, I believe honesty may just land you the job.  Many interview questions are geared to test ones morals, ethics and values.  Anyone with an ounce of experience can detect when someone is lying in an interview.  Further, honesty may help you win over your interviewer!  Explaining the details about a past termination may scare most.  But if you’re honest about the circumstances, explain what you could have done differently and talk about what you’ve done to change the behavior, many times it’ll be enough to smooth over an otherwise uncomfortable conversation.

Honesty has become lost in translation in many aspects of our lives.  But maybe a little brutal honesty every once in a while, may lead you from the mail room to the board room.

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