Is It Ever a Good Idea to Lie or Exaggerate about Your Qualifications on a Resume or in an Interview? (Part II) |

Is It Ever a Good Idea to Lie or Exaggerate about Your Qualifications on a Resume or in an Interview? (Part II)


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In my prior article, I described several reasons why being truthful in your resume and interviews about your qualifications is not only the right thing to do, but it is in your best interest. I will provide several more reasons in this article, as well as additional examples of effective (and still truthful) presentation.
Is It Ever A Good Idea To Lie Or Exaggerate About Your Qualifications On A Resume Or In An Interview? (Part II)

Some attorneys believe they are unlikely to get caught. And they may be right. But they may be wrong as well. One should remember that law firm partners are not normally a bunch of clueless suckers. They are intelligent, highly sophisticated, and very much on guard for a candidate to try to misstate their qualifications. Any discrepancy or inconsistency in the candidate's overall presentation will, at a minimum, create a question regarding credibility that alone will be fatal to the candidate's chances.
  Another reason to play it straight is that firms are also checking the candidate's story against the statements of their references. In addition, law firms have been known to call former colleagues and friends at the current or prior firms of the candidate as well to serve as "unofficial references."Firms will not hesitate to use any discrepancies they find against the candidate.
In my prior article, I emphasized that there is a careful distinction should be made between smart editing and effective presentation versus misrepresenting one's qualifications. The following are a couple more examples of the importance of this distinction. I recently worked with a partner who had a five page resume. With careful editing, we took out much of the boring detail of his litigation experience. The result was a much more readable and effective one page resume that highlighted key aspects of his resume, including his stellar prior firm (Kirkland & Ellis) and prestigious law school (University of Chicago). Everything was just as accurate - it was just better organized and presented.
Smart editing and presentation is not just limited to the good facts, however. Even when there is a bad (or very bad) fact, there are ways of presenting it more effectively so as to minimize its harm without compromising on truthfulness. For example, I once worked with a young partner from a top tier firm who actually had a criminal record. After the candidate got an interview at a very large and prestigious firm, the firm presented him with a standard "due diligence" questionnaire. It was here - with a direct question seeking information regarding any criminal convictions - that we were clearly obligated to disclose this fact. But we were careful, as well as forthright, in presenting it. Basically, the candidate had been convicted of breaking& entering and several similar crimes in a small county largely controlled by his ex-wife's wealthy family. In other words, the criminal action was purely a farce done as part of an acrimonious divorce action. We provided the documents and phone numbers of key witnesses that would establish the truth. After careful consideration, the firm gave him an offer, which he accepted.

Learn why attorneys usually fail law firm phone-screening interviews in this article:
See the following articles for more information:

About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog,, and, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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