Jewish Ethicist is a weekly column produced by the JCT Center for
Business Ethics in cooperation with Aish.com. In each edition,
Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir answers questions related to everyday
business and work dilemmas.
Can I Embellish My Resume?
Q. I'm looking for a job in web
development. My friends advise me to
stretch the truth a bit on my resume so as to increase my chances of
getting an interview. How far can I go in embellishing my credentials?
How can I "sell myself" without being an egotist? MK, US
A. When selling yourself or your
product you may - and should - put your
best foot forward; but you can't mislead the other side. Jewish
tradition distinguishes among three kinds of exaggeration:
1. A perfectly true statement which may give an exaggerated impression
of your capabilities is permissible. If you graduated from Jojoba
college, say so even if you were last in your class and majored in
2. Statements which are likely to
give a misleading impression are
forbidden. If you attended one session of summer school at Jojoba
college and then got your BA from a correspondence school , don't write,
"Attended Jojoba college and received a BA" since the clear
is that the BA is from Jojoba.
3. Actual flaws may not be concealed even passively. For example, if you
can't speak English, you should frankly state this in your resume.
You needn't reveal a problem if the law protects it. If the law forbids
discriminating against the handicapped, you don't have to tell the
prospective employer that you are wheelchair-bound since concealing your
status does not harm your chances if the employer complies with the law.
If you have firm evidence that the employer is unfairly biased against
you, you may subtly camouflage your status. For instance, if Patricia
Smith knows the employer discriminates against women, she can write her
name Pat Smith. Don't do this if the bias is justifiable - for instance,
a store wants a man to sell men's clothes because this makes the
customer more comfortable.
Outright lying can never be justified.
Don't be overly concerned about egotism. Giving a good impression is not
only for your own interest; the employer also wants to see you at your
best. I'm sure that even if you're usually a little shlumpy, you neaten
up when you go out to show your date (or spouse) you care; by the same
token, putting your best foot forward on your resume is a way of showing
respect and esteem for the firm.
SOURCES: Shulchan Arukh Choshen Mishpat chapter 228; Talmud Chullin page
94b, Yevamot 45a; Igrot Moshe YD II:61. A detailed analysis can b
found in section 2 of Case Studies in Jewish Business Ethics by Rabbi
Send your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org
Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir
is Research Director of the Center for Business Ethics, Jerusalem
College of Technology. Rabbi Dr. Meir received his PhD in Economics from
MIT, and previously studied at Harvard. He subsequently studied at
various Israeli yeshivot, and received his ordination from the Israeli
Chief Rabbinate. Prior to moving to Israel, he worked at the Council of
Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration. Rabbi Dr. Meir is also a
Senior Lecturer in Economics at the Jerusalem College of Technology and
has published several articles on the subjects of modern business and
economics and Jewish law. He is also the author of Meaning
in Mitzvot, an OU.ORG feature.
The Jewish Ethicist
presents some general principles of Jewish law and ethics. For specific
questions and direct application, please consult a qualified Rabbi.
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for Business Ethics and Aish.com.
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