Lying on your resume -- experiences, ethics, and strategies

Jake Paul's picture
Rank: Orangutan | 291

This might not sit well with a fair amount of people on here, but I've found this interesting since I've heard a few financial professionals say that this is an okay thing to do (to an extent).

Has anyone else here made a small lie on their resume? (director of bullshit club, president of fraternity, etc)

I'm not talking about lying about GPA or anything more serious.

I'd love to hear people's experiences with it, some things that they added that were exaggerated or just straight up false, or, even better, an ethical discussion of whether or not this is an acceptable thing to do to get your foot in the door if you fucked up early on and need to make the best of a bad situation.

Feel free to throw MS at me, this is purely for the sake of discussion. I personally have exaggerated some responsibilities of clubs I've been in, but that's the extent. Where would you draw the line?

Comments (84)

Nov 13, 2018

Just make sure you have an alibi and that people associated with the blemish will back you up. In high school, a friend founded a business society club and made up all this BS work they did so it'd look good on college apps. All his friends got over-inflated position names and backed each other up whenever someone questioned their roles. They even hosted fake meetings so the teacher that sponsored them believed they were doing real important stuff. It worked like a charm and definitely helped him get into an Ivy League.

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Nov 13, 2018

That's great haha, definitely something that would work extremely well at the high school level.

Nov 15, 2018
ThatOtherGuy:

Just make sure you have an alibi and that people associated with the blemish will back you up. In high school, a friend founded a business society club and made up all this BS work they did so it'd look good on college apps. All his friends got over-inflated position names and backed each other up whenever someone questioned their roles. They even hosted fake meetings so the teacher that sponsored them believed they were doing real important stuff. It worked like a charm and definitely helped him get into an Ivy League.

That's not on your friend. That's an issue with an intellectually bankrupt, self-important university admissions system.

Nov 16, 2018

Honestly, knowing how to game the system takes at least a moderate amount of effort/intelligence to do (not even comparable to actually doing it). I guess some people would just say "work smarter, not harder", and in that specific case, it's true.

If I could go back to HS, I would do something similar -- inflate titles and some work with my buddies -- but still use it as leverage to actually network with professionals/mentors as an incoming freshman. I didn't even know about high finance until I was a fucking Junior in College. SMH.

Nov 13, 2018

I spent eight years in roles without an official title. (small firm) I don't lie about my job duties on my resume (other than omitting that alongside writing macroeconomic positioning notes, I also got the mail for the office--It was an easy excuse for a smoke break) but I have created job titles that sound relatively prestigious for what I did. Because I didn't have an official title, nobody can prove me wrong for using accurate, but generous titles.

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Nov 13, 2018

0

Nov 14, 2018

When I was doing my first boutique IB internship, my contract only said intern but I was doing M&A work working directly with the director (the shop was so small I was the only intern and they had no analysts or associates). I put M&A summer analyst on my cv.

It's not wrong. It just sounded better than what was put on the contract.

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Nov 14, 2018

I had a summer job once in high school whose title was "Historic Interior Aide" for a local historic foundation, which was actually just a housekeeping gig.

Nov 15, 2018

The issue here is if the role you claim to have had entails a very specific and structured set of core duties / competencies. Unless you worked as "XYZ" at another firm, you wouldn't entirely know what those duties / competencies are, and if you have any gaps. You only have maybe a 70% or 80% view. So while there may be X% overlap between "XYZ" and the role you're interviewing for, you may not know the gaps you have and therefore come across as either a liar or incompetent.

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Nov 14, 2018

I would never outright lie on my CV but a little polish or exaggeration here or there won't hurt anyone and can go a long way to make you stand out (e.g. job titles like other people mentioned). After all, that's how we learned to make these companies look good in their sell-side CIM's.

Nov 14, 2018

It's one think to sell ice to an Eskimo.

It's another to directly lie/steal from an Eskimo.

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Funniest
Nov 14, 2018

Who cares, eskimos are assholes.

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Mar 13, 2020

And some eskimos are bros

Controversial
Nov 14, 2018

I lied about my GPA. Had to a 2.58 at the time of applying to my internship at a BB. By the time it started, I had gotten it up to a 2.94. Said I had a 3.4 on my resume. I don't lie anymore (I don't have to - I'm a fuckin boss now), but lying in that case helped my career immensely and I was able to use the experience to get an internship at an EB

Fuckin my way thru nyc one chick at a time

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Nov 14, 2018

"I'm a fuckin boss now" - Student/Prospective Monkey

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Nov 15, 2018

"EliteStudent11"

has a 2.58

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Nov 15, 2018

Doesn't make it OK in my opinion. Someone who worked hard for their grades didn't get that spot as a result.

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Nov 16, 2018

Personally I find it morally wrong to lie about that -- GPA can have a direct relation to work ethic under many circumstances (not gonna full equate anything there). So you're pretty much quantitatively lying about how much/less of a degenerate you are.

But on the other side, seriously, companies have to do better background checks on this type of shit. WTF does HR get paid for? I know a girl who's 27 and making like 150+ as an HR director. She is very "slow" and admits that she doesn't even really do much -- DESPITE THIS, she has 3+ offers from other companies asking her to join their HR department for better pay. what the fuck

Nov 17, 2018

Grades are a box check to weed out applicants before interviewing. Crushing it in the interview is what gets you the job. If the person who actually got a 3.4 was a better fit for the job, it would've shown in the interview.

Fuckin my way thru nyc one chick at a time

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Nov 15, 2018

Dude, if you seriously had a 2.58 GPA, you're an idiot.

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  • ij29824DE
  •  Nov 16, 2018

moron

Nov 17, 2018

how were you not caught? they verify your GPA!!

Nov 18, 2018

They verify that you're in "good academic standing" and on track to graduate by spring 20XX

Fuckin my way thru nyc one chick at a time

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Nov 18, 2018

delete

Ty

Nov 18, 2018

It's a lot more common than the people on this site think. The students that do it don't frequent WSO. I'll admit I was incredibly nervous when they asked for my transcript, but there are 50 interns for every HR rep at a BB. They don't have time to deal with BS like people's gpa being off by .3

That being said, I don't recommend anyone doing this unless you truly have nothing to lose. I never could've gotten a good internship without lying, so it was worth the risk. And I never lied again after I got my GPA up.

I think the better strategy is to use your major gpa or undergrad b-school gpa. That's what I do now and people just see the numbers "3.5" and move on

Fuckin my way thru nyc one chick at a time

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Nov 14, 2018

I don't have an ethical problem with it. But it adds very little value to a resume, and precisely because it's so easy to lie about.

Banks care about your grades, the quality of the school, and your ability to talk finance via technical and other questions. Those are the things that are verifiable, and it leaves very little room to care about other things.

I understand why a student who's spent so much time getting the big stuff right (right school, right grades, right finance prep) wouldn't want to leave the little things to chance. So if you're already a strong candidate and you want to check a small box because you're paranoid that you're the only candidate without a club membership, then do it. But understand that you're just doing it to check a box and thus make sure the lie is very small. Don't start coming up with stories about building villages in Africa when all you needed to sleep at night was Golf Club Co-Chair.

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Most Helpful
Nov 14, 2018

Lying is a despicable move. I wouldn't respect it, and you shouldn't respect yourself for it either.

Then again we live in an age where so many unimpressive, garden-variety kids who got too many trophies growing up think that getting a B entitles them to go to office hours and insist "but I need an A so I can accomplish XYZ prestige goal". Talk about putting the cart before the horse.

Whatever, I'll always feel better that I didn't cheat others out of a job and myself out of strong character in order to get where I wanted. Call me old fashioned.

Making the bullet points sound better rather than worse isn't a lie - it's salesmanship, and it's what the MD interviewing you does for a living every day. Outright fabrication however, in a way that you know to be actively dishonest is bad news, and if caught you will get rightly dinged. I think creating a school club that doesn't take itself seriously falls into that bucket.

Saw a kid get their offer rescinded just the other day for making a material embellishment in the interview process - they thought the bank wouldn't check it and they did. The kid had some half baked excuses, but their ass got the boot and their would-be colleagues all chuckled about it before getting back to work.

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Nov 15, 2018

Anymore detail you can share about the material embellishment? Just curious how egregious it was that he actually got the boot.

Nov 16, 2018

I wont say anything more.

If you need a guiding principle, then let it be this: don't tell straight up lies. Don't say or do anything where, if someone were observing your thoughts, your credibility would be forever ruined.

This comes naturally to most people. It's not rocket science. As another poster in this thread said, there's so much more you can do to enhance your odds of success than lying about trivial bullshit on a resume.

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Nov 18, 2018

that's why you don't commit fraud lightly. When you decide to do it, its only once and it better be perfect. The rats who get caught deserve it, and the snakes who don't deserve their positive fate as well.

Ty

Nov 18, 2018

What? No.

Sick of all the half-assed mental acrobatics in this thread.

It's this simple: when you lie for a job, you violate a standard of honesty that benefits us all as members of society - a standard that most people hold themselves to for altruistic reasons. In doing so, you have chosen to enrich yourself at the expense of the others who abide by the social contract, and to denigrate the value of the social contract by trampling upon it. These are the actions of a dishonest thief and a free rider.

Now, every person has done things in life that they are not proud of. This does not put you beyond redemption. But to admit that you have taken advantage of others' honesty and hold forth on the subject of your ultimate innocence with flimsy rationalizations is the hallmark of someone that is still wallowing in sin.

People who do the right thing don't need to explain themselves. I think some people in this thread need to ponder that before yammering on any more about "well, I HAD to do it for XYZ reason". Stop blathering on in the thread hoping someone here will justify your poor decisions and maybe start making better ones if you aren't prepared to live with yourself and the consequences of doing bad things.

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  • VP in IB-M&A
Mar 14, 2020

What was the material embellishment? I'm not saying I don't believe you, but I've just never seen this happen before (i.e. kid gets offer rescinded because he lied about being president of the chess club). My bank (a BB in NYC) does not check for clubs lol. Sure, if the guy said he worked at Goldman, but didn't - offer is rescinded.

Nov 14, 2018

One of my friends legit lied about 2/3 of her CV and got two full time AM offers (they were mid sized firms) and one Bloomberg/Reuters FT offer. She lied about the business she built (im not sure how she got away with that since she only had that Facebook page she created in advance to back it up), lied about the PE internship she did in HK (she told me she didn't intern at that firm. It's a pretty obscure firm tho), also a commercial banking internship in another Asian country which was the only legit job on her cv (tho she inflated her achievement saying she sold products worth over $100,000. She was legit telling me how I should lie on my cv. My mind was literally blown and I lost all respect for her since then. There would be no way I'd wanna work with her or her firm in the future.

I always see people saying how they helped the firm sell or make profits of $$$ as an intern on their LinkedIn or CV. It used to make me feel very conscious of my own experience and made me feel that I needed to exaggerate. Now I just wonder, employers aren't stupid. Isn't a bit absurd that interns help generate tons of profits while a FT analyst might not even get to go anywhere near an MD?

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Nov 17, 2018

She must be a Chinese Chinese

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Nov 18, 2018

This is very common among Asian Internationals. They have no compunction in outright lying.

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Nov 14, 2018

The rules of the game are:
1) Don't tell a lie that can be disproven via google
2) Don't tell a lie that can be disproven via a reference check/HR phone call
3) Don't even embellish if it will be obvious you did in your first 6 months on the job.

Point #3 deserves some elaboration - in almost all cases, recovering the trust of your superiors/peers is much more difficult than getting the job initially.

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Nov 16, 2018
The Stranger:

The rules of the game are:
1) Don't tell a lie that can be disproven via google
2) Don't tell a lie that can be disproven via a reference check/HR phone call
3) Don't even embellish if it will be obvious you did in your first 6 months on the job.

Point #3 deserves some elaboration - in almost all cases, recovering the trust of your superiors/peers is much more difficult than getting the job initially.

Okay, point number 3 considers me a hell lot. Any senior monkeys here kind enough to allow me to PM them to check if my embellishment has gone too far? Looking for guys in M&A who can give context. Rather not type out stuff in a public forum.

Thank you.

Array

Nov 16, 2018

I'm not inM&A but if you wanna PM me, I'm happy to opine.

Nov 17, 2018

Also not in M&A but I'll opine

Nov 14, 2018

It's one of those things that people may not condone, but don't be surprised if you see it happen often.

Nov 15, 2018

If the end goal is to get a good entry position, I would spend more time on networking with people to show that I can be helpful to him - rather than spending all the time on fixing/exaggerating things on the resume. For any hiring manager, the bar is pretty standard, 1) is this person coach-able? 2) does he has a good attitude? 3) can I count on him to get thing done? If your resume is pretty horrible to the point that such message cannot come across on paper, then you are better off selling your story in person. And you only need to convince one person.

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Nov 16, 2018

This is great a comment. SB!

Nov 15, 2018

If you're going to give yourself an inflated title, make sure that it is believable. I feel like some college kids don't understand that giving yourself some huge title, even in a "company" you started, is hurting your case. I've seen some college kids on LinkedIn start a charity and give themselves titles like "Chief Strategy Officer" and "Vice President of Marketing". It seemed like they pulled in all their friends and gave out titles like candy. A recruiter is going to see that and think less of your experience since it looks like just a resume play.

I have some connections on LinkedIn who are just about to graduate college, and they have all these previous titles of "Vice President of Sales B2B", "Chief Executive Officer and Founder", and "Managing Director", all from companies, charities, and consultancies that they started.

You aren't fooling anyone. Pray tell, if you have so much executive experience, why are you applying for this $55k a year, FP&A analyst job?

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Nov 15, 2018

Very well put. I love your last point. I see similar things on some LinkedIn profiles I come across from people I have mutual connections with. If you started your own company, just fucking put "Founder" and be done with it. You're making yourself come off as pompous to give yourself inflated titles for some minor thing that YOU started.

Nov 15, 2018

Just embellish. I drafted up DCFs for 6-10 companies before honing in on 1-2 to make equity research reports for my school's investment fund. My resume bullet was later "Initiated coverage on abc, def, ghi, (all 6-10)"

Not too high, not too low

Nov 15, 2018

At the junior level, i'd argue lying is a bit more black and white. You were, or you weren't, president of your club. You did, or didn't, get a 4.0. You started, or didn't start, that company in college with your bros. I mean - there isn't much to really lie about at that point which I would put in the 'gray area' of is it, or isn't it, exaggeration vs. falsification. If you do, is it a big deal? Yes. Yes it is. And you'll get made, say it's bullshit, whatever but it's the truth. If you are going to lie about a student club - what on earth will you do on a $1 billion dollar deal, or execution error on a trade, etc.

Trust me, I get it. It's tough out there, super competitive. I had a super low GPA when i graduated from college. It sucked. It still sucks. I was an idiot. But i managed to figure out a way around it and things have, fortunately, worked out for me. I think the challenge is that when you end up lying on something, no matter how small or insignificant it seems - it opens the door, a door you'd prefer to stay unequivocally closed.

To me, the real challenge comes when you start dealing with higher level folks - or folks with a few years of experience that are transitioning - it can be a bit more gray. No one is going to paint themselves in a bad light, and they'll certainly try and play up all their positives, experiences that worked out, etc. They might even take more credit for a project than they deserve, a client they kinda helped win but really didn't, etc. That normally proves itself once they start - you'll know whether they are full of it or not. Does it make it OK if they did entirely lie, but can still perform the job and i never know? I don't think so, but, I personally wouldn't risk being at the mercy of someone over it.

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Nov 16, 2018

VERY well put and insightful. Thanks for a meaningful add to the discussion

Nov 21, 2018

Great points here.

Nov 15, 2018

Judging by your name, are you planning on saying you got millions of views of a video you made about a dead guy in a forest? When really it was your brother Logan...

"The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary." - Nassim Taleb

Nov 16, 2018

I'm actually the CEO, Managing Director, Thought Leader, and Executive Vice President of Team 10 Capital Partners

We mostly deal in the talent acquisition markets, some social media restructuring, and relevancy consulting. We also have AUM that are exclusively depreciating.

Thank you for you time I would love to work for the Goldman Sachs Corporation Partners

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Nov 15, 2018

Never needed to, although I did leave off things that were less than ideal, like gpa.

Nov 16, 2018

What would you say was the GPA threshold was for you not to list it?

Nov 16, 2018

My cumulative was pretty low, major gpa was like a 3.6, but I got C's in basically everything else.

No point in bringing up something if you don't want to defend it, but I did list dean's list, as I made it a couple semesters.

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Nov 15, 2018

The American university industrial complex is an irretrievably corrupt system that does not deserve any American's respect. I have zero problem do anything in my power to subvert the system that is in its sunset and possibly its death throes.

So Hell yes. I lied about my GPA (boosting it from a 2.5 to a 3.39, just low enough to keep me off honor lists that a prospective employer could check). I even went so far as to construct an entire fake transcript to send to employers in case they asked for it--one did, and it worked!

Up until the last few years, I actually felt guilt and remorse for it. But in the last few years, I've realized--actually, accepted what I've always known--that college is fucking bullshit. You learn nothing of importance. In fact, in many cases, you walk away from college stupider than when you began. The American university industrial complex is literally one of the biggest wastes of money in the history of civilization, right up there with WW I. It's a place for useless people to confer utterly pointless degrees onto young people, and a place for young people to waste 4 years of their lives. I have a master's degree, btw.

Businesses use college graduation as a basis for assessing your intellect and value as a prospective employee when the reality is there is virtually no tangible benefit to your skill set resulting from college attendance in 21st century America (STEM fields excepted, of course, but there is a ton of waste there, too).

If you have the skill set and intellect and ability, then prove it on the proverbial battlefield. If you can't hack it, the market will show you the door. If you can hack it despite your college matriculation, then what was the point in the big production?

With that said, I only support lying about college-related activities because I have complete and unceasing contempt for the university system. Employers who are in bed with the system do not deserve my honesty about what I did in college.

Nov 16, 2018

What an enlightened opinion! Pretty convenient for someone that clearly blew school off to justify their lies on the basis that "school is a scam".

Paper thin ethics and flimsy rationalization - the latest in a litany of eye-roll inducing posts I've seen from you. Don't you have enough self-respect to simply leave it at the fact that you have no qualms about breaking the rules to take something that probably should belong to someone else? In the simplest terms, you're a thief - spare us and yourself the histrionics and call a spade a spade.

This is comin' at you from a fellow grubby, low-gpa non-target who worked goddamn hard to achieve their goals, despite being turned away, avoided, and outright insulted for my past faults time and again along the way. I wake up every morning feeling nothing but optimism about this world and my efforts in it as a result of my persistence and ultimate success. I'd go so far as to say the experiencehas made me a more humble and altruistic person.

Dont be like @real_Skankhunt42" kids. Some things are more important than maximizing the chances of passing a resume screen.

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Nov 16, 2018

Imagine being on the other side of the table - you are the employer and the guy who came to interview to work for you think exactly like you.

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Nov 18, 2018

with I had 1000 SB to send to you haha oh god! Good play my dude. In general I'm against lying about anything experience related but when it comes to grades, change them up.

Ty

Nov 21, 2018

" ** With that said, I only support lying about college-related activities because I have complete and unceasing contempt for the university system." You must be really fun to work with.

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Nov 15, 2018

A group of recent hires were somehow found out to be lying on their resumes and were promptly fired. About a dozen of them.

Nov 16, 2018
LeChiffre:

A group of recent hires were somehow found out to be lying on their resumes and were promptly fired. About a dozen of them.

What kind of lies? How was it verified? Interested to know.

Array

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Nov 16, 2018

A group? Were they colluding or something? If so, that honestly sounds like an absolutely hilarious situation.

Imagine them figuring out they're fucked and meeting up in a conference room and hearing the first person just sighing out "...fuuuuuuuuuuuuuckkkkkk", and half the kids just putting their heads down or staring at the wall. Lmfao

Nov 18, 2018

@slothsloth" (tagging you so you see this reply)

I believe they were colluding together. Not sure exactly how they found out. Happened during a period when they were hiring a bunch of people so maybe the usual screening process was lagging behind.

Nov 16, 2018

I had a friend who recently told me about how exaggerated about the deal sizes he worked on at a major commercial bank.

The interview was for a top-tier BB in their IB. As a commercial banker, his deal sizes would be $100-200mm tops but he felt the need to bump that up 3x to $300-600mm to be more competitive.

Problem is that if you inflate the deal size, you're also going to have to change the leverage, revenue, EBITDA, etc...

So when it came down to the interview, he kept fumbling around which numbers to say, how to keep track of them, and confused numbers between deals.

Even if the interviewers didn't think he was lying, he still looked and sounded clumsy and insecure.

Moral of the story - You have a better chance at having a boring but honest and confident story than have an exciting but made up and confusing one.

Nov 17, 2018

Someone who works at the prop arm of a large commercial bank told me that the deal flow there is so slow that he has greatly exaggerated about his IB experience in the resume. He actually works on a company , builds a financial model makes a pitch and presenations, learns about the industry in detail.
He then mentions in his resume that this was an actual deal he worked on but the deal did not go ahead etc and does not disclose the names of the companies claiming its confidential

Do you think it is possible to fool recruiters ? Specially when you are applying outside of your country/region where the recruiters wont have such non public information about deals ?

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Nov 17, 2018

Unlikely that the recruiter would see through it but the people that interview you might be able to suss it out during the interview and I think you'd definitely run into problems on the job if you got it. Also fail to see how prop trading and IB are related?

Nov 17, 2018

Here is a recent story for you. My boss and I interviewed an intern candidate this week for a real estate equity fundraising role at a commercial real estate owner/operator. He had on his resume that he had started Breaking into Wall Street training in September 2018. That was one point on his resume that got us interested. When I asked him specifically about what he had learned thus far, he told he was not actually starting it until January 2019. Needless to say, he will not be receiving an offer.

If you are going to lie or misrepresent on your resume, be damn sure to have an answer or cover story ready. It is very risky and I personally would it unethical to blatantly lie or greatly exaggerate your experience because that inevitably bleeds into your ethics in other parts of your life.

Nov 17, 2018
Comment

Hank

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