Writing or updating a resume is something most people don’t really look forward to. With the amount of competition that exists for an opening, many job seekers wonder if their resume will land that interview.
That’s when they begin exaggerating job titles, skills and changing employment dates. Lying on your resume is never a good idea as there are some pretty harsh consequences which we’ll discuss later on. We’ll go over the most common resume lies job seekers include in a resume.
What percentage of people lie on their resumes?
A Careerbuilder survey found that 58% of employers have caught a lie on a resume. The study also found that 51% of employers would reject a candidate for lying and 7% would overlook it if they liked the candidate. The 7% of hiring managers that would overlook a lie must be some pretty laid back folks!
The top 3 biggest lies were in regards to skills, responsibilities and dates of employment. The financial services industry was also the most likely to catch a lie on a resume. We’ll go over the top 9 most common lies found on resumes today.
Top 9 Resume Lies
1. Employment Dates
This is one of the most common lies found on a resume. Many job seekers stretch the dates of employment for certain positions to cover up employment gaps or short job stints. Many fail to realize that a few short gaps in employment won’t really hurt the chances of getting an interview.One of the most common ways job seekers attempt to cover up short employment is to only include the years instead of the month and year. There has been much discussion on whether including only the years is permissible. The answer is that it really depends on when you worked there and for how long. If there is confusion for the hiring manager as to exactly when you worked there, you should include the months.Take a look at the following dates of employment and how they can be confusing to the hiring manager.
You worked: November 2015 – February 2016 (4 Months)
You Write : 2015- 2016 (Could be 24 months)
Avoid including just the years for your most previous work experience and anywhere it may confuse the reader. You can read more here about how to deal with employment gaps.
2. Job Titles
Many job seekers feel that their title wasn’t prestigious enough so they begin exaggerating. For example: A sales associate may change their title to “sales manager”. The issue here is that the employer can easily call the company to check up on your title. Some also fail to live up to their “title”” once they’re hired.There is nothing wrong with re-wording a title to sound more relevant given it were true. You should, however, avoid lying about a title you never really held.
Lying about education is one of the most common lies job seekers make. Many include degrees they never obtained or completed. Some also list degrees obtained from another country which is very difficult to verify. Some recent graduates also inflate their GPA in hopes of standing out to an employer.These are all really bad ideas as most employers will check to verify your education. You also don’t want to work somewhere with the fear that one day they find out the truth about your education.
*Real-life example: Scott Thompson, a Yahoo CEO was fired when they found out he padded his resume with a degree he never obtained.
As they sometimes exaggerate with titles, it’s common for job seekers to exaggerate their duties. They often list or exaggerate duties or achievements which never happened.Employers usually catch this lie when they call for references or the employee can’t perform duties that were stated on the resume.
Many ask their friends or family members to be their professional reference and to say how awesome they are if an employer calls. The problem with this is that hiring managers can really spot a reference that never really worked with the candidate.This is usually due to an unprofessional phone number or email, as well as the inability to answer specific technical questions about the candidate’s performance. Employers do really check into a reference before relying on the word of the candidate.
6. Licenses + Certifications
This is the most dangerous lie one can make on a resume. Claiming to possess licenses or certifications which were never obtained can have severe legal consequences. Listing fake certifications or licenses from another country are also common among immigrants.
Listing a fake company is also a common lie on resumes. Some list companies that never existed, side businesses or companies they never worked for. Some even list a real company where they have a connection who may vouch for them.This is always a bad idea as one can easily check the public records of a company in regards to registration.
Listing skills for which you have no proficiency is another common lie. Many list skills they barely know or have no knowledge of at all. What usually happens is embarrassment and termination when the employer realizes you can’t perform the skills listed.
9. Reasons for Leaving
Another common lie is not giving the real reason as to why you left a job. Many state in their summary or cover letter that they left their old job or the company was shut down when they were really fired.Employers won’t call a company and ask whether you’re telling the truth so this may be one of the easier lies to get away with. (However, we’re not recommending you lie!)
There is one question which many job seekers ask –
Is lying on a resume illegal?
Although the biggest worry should be getting fired or damaging your reputation, lying on a resume is illegal in some situations. Falsifying your education or including fake certifications/licenses is illegal and could result in criminal charges. It’s also illegal to list a certification or license if you knew it was revoked or expired.
Here is a section of the Texas penal code that addresses this issue:
Each state has their own laws and consequences ranging from fines to jail time or both.
Is it ever okay to lie on a resume?
There is no situation in which someone should lie on a resume. How far can you stretch the truth? There are some ways to appeal to the employer without lying on a resume.
- Reword your experience to be more relevant.If you were in sales and are now targeting a marketing position, you should focus on the experience which is relevant to marketing. There is almost some area of your experience that would be relevant for another position. You should never lie but you should focus on the more relevant aspects of your past experience.
- Skills you sort of know.If a position lists a skill you sort of know about, you should list it only under the condition that you’re 100% certain that you will be able to perform it well if you get hired. Many sometimes just need to brush up on old knowledge or apply their knowledge of an existing skill to a new one.Example: If someone was proficient in an accounting software 1.0 that was renamed and updated, it would be okay to list the new version if you were 100% certain you can master it in a few hours or days.
Lying on a resume is never a good idea. Employers can easily spot lies which can lead to you being fired, damaging your reputation or facing criminal charges. You should instead focus on relevant skills, qualification and education that’s relevant to the job.
Good luck with your job search!