If you're in the habit of staying in and watching ITV on a Saturday and Sunday night, you'll probably be familiar with Stevi Ritchie. If not, then I just need to tell you he's this year's comedy offering on the X-Factor. You know, the one who can't really sing, but has a certain appeal thanks to his willingness to give it a shot regardless.
So, what could we possibly learn from this preposterous but likeable chap? Or indeed, any of the warblers from this primetime talent contest? Well, just one thing: be honest about your career.
You see, the satirical celebrity gossip site, holymoly.com has published details of Ritchie's CV, as they appear on an online casting page of performers' credentials. And it seems he's been, how should we say this, quite liberal with the facts.
There's a lot of it, so I won't quote the whole diatribe - but here's a sample:
"Appeared On American Idol and judges said i had a fantastic voice and very talented and was surprised with vocals and acting of Circle of Life that casting directors were not inviting auditions for West End As Broadway would be extremely interested in offering roles in New York and LA. As I was not American although i got through to final they could not give me the Golden Ticket because i was not American, Enjoyed the day Producers loved it"
Now, there's every possibility Stevi (or Steven, as he's actually called) did audition for American Idol. I suppose anybody can. However, he DIDN'T make the final and one doesn't have to be American to win.
"Steven has flirted around the edges of showbusiness for a few years now, including a stint at Pontins as a Blue Coat."
There's plenty more where that came from too (all equally badly written). The point is, Steven has flirted around the edges of showbusiness for a few years now, including a stint at Pontins as a Blue Coat. Quite obviously, he's a bit frustrated or embarrassed that he hasn't been more successful, and is making a valiant attempt to bolster his track record.
This isn't a specific pop at Mr. Ritchie, though. He is a long way from being the first person to do this, and it isn't difficult to understand the temptation to inflate one's CV in the hope of advancement. The trouble is, it so often goes wrong and the fallout is deeply humiliating. In the worst instances, it can cost you your job.
I'm not advising against this approach from some moral high-ground. As a copywriter, I'd be a stinking hypocrite to counsel against exaggerated text! It's more what it does to one's soul, that concerns me. Because, if you fake the level of your success at an early stage, what happens if you really make it? What do you say then? If you list your internship as a creative directorship, it will feel horribly hollow when you finally add that senior role to your CV authentically.
And why denigrate the things you have actually done, by adding things you haven't? However much or little you've achieved so far, why not be proud of it. That pride will surely come across and make you more of an attractive prospect to employers anyway. On the other hand, if you deploy a lot of smelly bulls*it, it could scupper your reputation for years.
If Stevi wins the X-Factor, he'll add that to his online portfolio. But as it will sit next to some rather grandiose claims, it won't be as spectacular as he would want and he won't feel as good as he expected to. In short, when it comes to CVs, we should all stick to the facts, take pride in our careers, then we'll really have something to shout about when the genuine opportunities and plaudits land.
Magnus Shaw is a blogger, copywriter and consultant. Honestly.
With thanks to http://holymoly.com