Lies on Your Resume – Some Lies Are Worse Than Others

When you are conducting a job search and you come upon a job you think is right for you it can be frustrating to discover that there are some requirements for the job that you don’t meet. It’s human nature to rationalize, and be tempted under those circumstances, to fudge a little on your resume. 

I will always tell you to make yourself look like the brightest shining star on your resume.  It is okay to push up to the limit on your talents, attitude and training.  You may not however suggest that you have certain skills or greater experience than you really do. The short term gains you might make in landing the job through deception can have long term consequences that will do serious damage to your career. 

Applicants will put inaccuracies in their resume because they think no one will bother to fact check whether or not what you say is true. Maybe in the past you could have gotten away with that behavior. But today, with advanced technology it is simply too easy for prospective employers to use these search engines, email your schools and off the record or on the record contact past employers to see if what you say is true. If even minor inconsistencies are discovered, that can be sufficient to completely eliminate you from further consideration for the job. 

Also know that many companies have very strict policies about when they do discover a false statement on a resume.  You can be under consideration for a promotion, obviously doing a great job where you are working, and once a false statement is discovered you will be fired immediately.  If you lie on your resume when and where else would you lie to us is what your employer is thinking.

The top “real” lies are mostly centered around education, work history, and accomplishments. The “white” lies, on the other hand, are harder to quantify or verify. Here are a few lies/exaggerations on your resume that come with consequences…

1. Dates of Employment

It looks bad to see you have worked less than a year at your current employer. How do you avoid the question of why such a short tenure? Try using a functional resume instead of a chronological one. But in your interview be very honest about why your left or were let go.  Do not have any gaps in your resume.  Be able to explain why you were out of the job market for two years. Taking care of children or older parents or going to school are valid reasons.   If you have short employment spans are they temporary/contract positions or special projects? Don’t make up a fictional job to cover employment gaps. It’s never wrong to be unemployed in order to take care of things that are important to you.

2. False accomplishments and skills

Enhancing actual skills and accomplishments are fine, but telling big fat lies just to impress the recruiter is not the way to create a positive image. If you can’t back up your skills and accomplishments – don’t list them.

3. Enhanced titles and responsibilities 

You may think you’re lucky if the recruiter didn’t call your past employer. However, that is very rare. You will be overwhelmed with the new job and you and the employer will soon you realize you’re ill equipped for the role. Why lie your way into a job that you’ll just end up being fired from anyway?

4. Fabricated degrees and educational history

Listing a false educational background will get you fired and may even bring a lawsuit from your employer. Don’t learn the hard way about the consequences of lying. Again, in this digital day and age, checking one’s educational background is a snap.  If there is any doubt do the background checking yourself before you list a degree, certificate or credential on your resume.

5.  Why you left a company

The hardest thing to talk about to a potential employer is being fired from your last job. No one wants to discuss this with an interviewer, especially when it will definitely affect the Hiring decision. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to have a well-prepared answer.  You want the interview to continue smoothly. If it was justifiable then explain it in a positive tone, and you’ll be surprised at how supportive your recruiter will be.

Telling even a little white lie will do you no good in the long run. You’ll be living in fear of getting caught the entire time you work there. Be truthful, don’t get upset if you don’t get the job you’ve always wanted. There are companies that job.  There are lots of employers that will value your honesty and integrity.  You will know  you ‘won” the job fair and square.

Categories: Job Tips with Phil Blair