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Does only the truth matter? Consequences of lying on your resume

Does only the truth matter? Consequences of lying on your resume

  • What are ways people lie on resumes?
  • How do recruiters spot lies in resumes?
  • Why is lying on your resume counterproductive?
  • Key takeaways

Lying on your resume is a bad idea, but why is it a bad idea specifically? This article talks about the consequences of lying on your resume, how job recruiters spot these lies, and why the truth matters.

Nearly every resume writing guide that can be found online agrees on a single point: lying on your professional resume document is a common mistake that will wreck your career prospects in the long run. But how counterproductive is it to make things up on your resume, and what consequences will you face if a recruiter catches you lying? Read this guide to learn why the truth matters and more about:

  • What counts as a lie on your resume

  • How recruiters catch lies on resumes

  • Why lying on your resumes hurts your job search

  • Why honest resumes impress recruiters more

What are ways people lie on resumes?

First things first: omitting details from your resume doesn’t count as lying. In fact, pruning unhelpful information is a key part of making a resume document that stands out. If you don’t want to mention an old job, a falling out with an old boss, or a learning program you didn’t complete, that’s perfectly fine! Recruiters who look at your resume will be more interested in your strengths as an employee. The big “no no” in professional resumes isn’t “lying by omission,” but actively making up fake background information in the following ways:

  • Employment history. Presenting inaccurate chronology of your employers and job titles.

  • Education. Falsely claiming you graduated from certain universities or colleges.

  • Experience level. Lying about the number of years you worked at a company or in an industry.

  • Achievements. Fabricating past accomplishments or promotions.

  • Qualifications. Highlighting skills that are fake or exaggerating skill proficiencies.

Statistical Insight

According to this CNBC article, over 50 percent of surveyed Americans have lied on their resume at some point. Many lied about their work experience in order to qualify for jobs with a specific “years of experience” requirement, while others fudged their identities to avoid discrimination based on ethnicity.

How do recruiters spot lies in resumes?

A few professionals in the global workforce actually manage to “fake it ‘til they make it,” using falsehood-filled resumes, tall tales, and raw charisma to rise to the top of their organizations. If you did try to get a job by lying on your resume, though, you’d probably get caught for one very simple reason: job recruiters aren’t idiots and are always on the lookout for lies.

There’s all sorts of ways a company’s human resources department can spot made-up details on your resume, including but not limited to: 

  • Background checks to see if you are who you say you are.

  • Reference checks with companies and universities on your resume.

  • Skill assessments and tests to measure your proficiency with certain tasks.

  • Multiple interviews that test the consistency of your claims.

Why is lying on your resume counterproductive?

If a job recruiter spots a blatant lie on your professional resume document–a job that doesn’t exist, skills you don’t have, a list of references for people you never met–that’s it for your job application. Companies won’t hire professionals who lie about their work experience. Lying on your resume might even damage your chances of getting hired by that company in the future. 

Even if recruiters don’t spot your lies and you get hired, you’re still working in a job that you’re not equipped to handle (if you were qualified for the job, you wouldn't have lied). In this new workplace and position, you’ll almost certainly make basic mistakes, fail to keep your “cover story” straight, and eventually stand revealed as  an imposter. In the best case scenario where you actually con your way to success, you’re still substituting lies for hard work, trust, and actual growth, which isn’t mentally good for you in the long run.

To learn more about constructing an effective resume, check out Career.io’s resume examples and writing guides.

Key takeaways

  1. Lying on your professional resume isn’t just unethical. It’s also counterproductive, potentially illegal, and likely to damage your career in the long run.

  2. Job recruiters have a huge bag of tricks for spotting lies in your resume: background checks, probing interview questions, and so on.

  3. If recruiters catch you lying on your resume, your job application (and future job applications) will be dead in the water.

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