You probably won’t confront him, because you haven’t already. I’m guessing it’s for one or more of three reasons:
1. He’s not that good a friend.
2. The falsehoods aren’t that big.
3. You’re thinking “confrontation.”
Friendship The best form of friendship helps each person become better. These types are marked by mutual love and honesty. Make up your mind. What kind of friendship do you really want?
Falsehoods I’ve never seen a resume that doesn’t glow. The sheer omission of a hint of fallibility is a kind of falsehood. Resumes brim with exaggerated descriptors – “resourceful, creative, team player, visionary, pro-active, etc., etc. If employers hired on the basis of resumes, we’d have zero unemployment.
Imagine going to confession with a spiritual resume approach? “Commend me Father, for I’ve not sinned. I’m humble, righteous, patient and kiss my mother almost every day. My penance, please?” Your friend has gone too far, but give him a break. It’s a resume. However, if he’s falsified things such as his education credentials or lied about previous jobs, you will need to move to the next step.
Confrontation It’s a thought that churns the stomach, so we avoid it like the plague. We like things pleasant. As St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “We behave pleasantly to those among whom we dwell, unless at times, for some reason, it be necessary to displease them for some good purpose.”
Do you have a good purpose? Then don’t think of it as confrontation. Think of it as help. You’ll be much more likely to talk with him. And, depending how skillfully you handle it, you might not even displease him. Tell him you want to improve his resume before passing it on. And you really do. Review it together, line by line. Where might it be stronger and more precise? Ask good probing questions, not to nail him on a falsehood, but to clarify his real accomplishments and talents.
When an inflated claim gets exposed, it’s an opportunity. Ask him what it would take to actually achieve that kind of claim. How good would it feel? What concrete steps can he take – more education, working harder, making an action plan, etc.?
In other words, help him with his own self-efficacy – or earned confidence that comes from real achievement. Facts are infinitely better than fantasies. Go deeper than the resume. Help him with what really counts – his life and a better future.
By Jim Berlucchi is a workplace professional with Spitzer Center.