Lying on your resume? Think again.

job search resume

With a challenging job market, you may be tempted to accentuate the truth on your resume. The line between lying and hyperbolizing can be grey, but know that there are consequences to outright mistruths on your resume.

A survey from CareerBuilder of more than 2,500 hiring managers found that 56% have caught job candidates lying on their resumes. What these applicants don’t realize is that companies are becoming increasingly savvy with discerning fact from fiction.

Common fibs include:

  • Falsifying positions and companies applicants have never worked for
  • Listing false education credentials
  • Embellishing skills and accomplishments

We know that hiring managers spend about 30 seconds reviewing resumes, so perhaps applicants believe that lies will increase their chance of being noticed. Prior to hiring a candidate, CareerBuilder noted 62% of survey respondents reported 2–3 people review each resume before a decision is made — making the likelihood of being caught, high. Regardless of the reason and the extent of the lie on a resume, there will be consequences.

“I have a higher and grander standard of principle than George Washington. He could not lie; I can, but I won’t.”
― Mark Twain

Let’s look at a real-life scenario with someone we’ll call John Smith. John applied for and got an entry-level position in a technology company where the qualifications included basic technical and project management skills. John’s resume indicated that he received a bachelor of science degree at a local college. Although the degree was preferred, it wasn’t required for this role. Months later, John’s lie was uncovered and he lost his job — not because he wasn’t a top performer, but because he violated the firm’s integrity policy. You may recall a similar story from 2012 when Scott Thompson, then CEO of Yahoo, was ousted for lying about his degree on his resume. Lying happens at all levels, and no one is immune to the repercussions.

If you are concerned about job gaps, job hopping, layoffs, or what you may think is a lack of experience, you can develop strategies to address these challenges in your resume and cover letter. Many hiring managers today are willing to hire candidates who may not have 100% of the qualifications for the job if he or she proves to be a cultural fit, motivated and a quick learner.

What should you do if you’re feeling under-qualified?

  • Play up your current skills, accomplishments and professional experience on your resume
  • If you need to acquire a skill, take a class or course and become an expert
  • Develop a strategy for explaining time off, job hopping, or a lay off (they exist!)

No one has to lie — this includes you. With a bit of self-reflection and perspective, you can transform your professional candidacy (including resume, cover letters, and interview) into the type of desirable employee that jobs across all industries would kill to hire.


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