Have You Ever Lied on Your Resume?
Maybe I'm just a coward, but I have never lied on my resume. Of course, having my own business, I haven't needed a resume for a long time, and back when I last used one, there were jobs aplenty, so fudging facts and figures wasn't necessary. Still, I can't imagine lying on my resume because—if nothing else—I'd be too afraid of being caught.
Apparently, lots of people do lie on their resumes. According to one study, 53 percent of resumes and job applications reviewed contained lies—and these are just the ones that were found. We can assume many other resumes had fibs that weren't identified. Among the items falsified were degrees earned, employment dates, references, and job descriptions—and, of course, salaries.
In a related survey, 58 percent of hiring managers identified lies, and one-third of these managers described what's being euphemistically called "resume embellishments." In addition to the categories of lies I mentioned above were titles, skill sets, job responsibilities, and awards. And it's not just your average Joe or Sue who lies; falsehoods seem to have found their way into the resumes of CEOs—or their corporate biographies, if not their resumes.
In fact, according to one shocking survey, misrepresentations (another euphemism!) were found in 23 percent of more than seven thousand applications for executive positions, including exaggerations or outright lies in education, managerial experience, accomplishments, and job responsibilities. Granted, this survey was back in 2001, but does anyone believe the numbers would be lower today?
It should be mentioned, I suppose, that because a resume isn't a legal document, it's not illegal to lie on a resume, except as it concerns educational credentials. So if you've lied on your resume, you probably don't have to fear being hauled off in handcuffs. But if you get caught in a lie during the application process, you most likely won't get the job. And if you get the job and your lie is found out, you could get fired, which would certainly make it more difficult to find your next job.
Even if resume fraud isn't illegal, it's not worth the risk. Lie once and you have to keep looking over your shoulder to see if anyone is onto you. With employers doing more background checks than they used to and online info about you readily accessible, a lie that's found out could result in losing your reputation along with your job.
Because there's sometimes a fine line between the total truth and a slight alteration of the facts, consider imagining an interviewer asking you about an item in your resume that you've, shall we say, tweaked. If you're hoping not to be asked or are not sure how you'd respond if you were, some “untweaking” may be in order. If everything on your resume is something you're happy to talk about, then you're fine, and may the job be yours.