Should you lie on your resume?
When you’ve sent out numerous resumes and aren’t getting any interviews, it can be tempting to lie on your resume. You start to feel anxious, defeated, and possibly even a bit furious.
However, in our opinion, lying on your resume is RARELY worthwhile, and lying to employers can have a lot of negative consequences.
Therefore, we asked Michael Klazema, a specialist in job background checks, to discuss the consequences of lying on your resume as well as some of the “hidden” threats and risks that you may not be aware of.
10 Bad Things that Happen When You Lie on Your Resume
1. Embellished job titles often sound bogus
These days, embellishing or exaggerating job titles is one of the most common trends among job seekers. The fundamental assumption behind this is that candidates are concerned that a hiring manager won’t be interested in their existing positions because they are too routine or uninspiring. They, therefore, alter those titles to give them a more significant sound.
A restaurant bartender, for instance, would describe his position as a “mixologist.” One Reddit user who repaired chairs at a theatre claimed that “Chairman of the Theater Department” was his go-to job title embellishment. That is an extreme example, but there are innumerable others, many of which seem fabricated to hiring supervisors with experience. When describing your prior positions, tell the truth to avoid raising any red flags.
2. Your references can poke holes in your story
False job descriptions, inflated job descriptions, and incorrect hiring dates may all seem to improve your chances of being hired. But remember that employers do call references, so even if you don’t mention a past boss, it’s still possible that you’ll get a call from them.
For their most serious candidates, employers like to confirm the facts on resumes, and this may involve calling the HR department of a previous employer. The majority of the time, HR professionals won’t divulge too much information about former workers, but they will confirm or refute important details like job descriptions, duties, and hire dates.
In other words, these people can quickly poke a hole in any story you are trying to fabricate on your resume.
3. Verification checks can spot false credentials like degrees or certifications
Employers perform several types of verification checks in addition to calling references and prior employers. The majority of them will at least confirm professional licenses and college degrees. Many employers perform a background investigation. If you exclude any material from your resume, you will be found out.
4. Claiming a false certification might qualify as fraud
Indeed, lying on a resume is frequent. However, that does not imply that they are legal or safe in the eyes of the law. Although state laws on the matter differ, resume fraud is a very real problem. If you lie on your CV, you risk facing serious consequences.
For instance, it is unlawful to declare that you hold a degree that you did not obtain in Texas. Texas has laws that make it illegal to list a fraudulent degree on a CV.
5. Employers don’t like to hire liars
Put yourself in the position of an employer. In order to fill a vacancy, you need to find a candidate who will stay.
Would you be more willing to take a chance on someone with a spotty employment history as long as they come across as intelligent, driven, and outgoing? Or would you be more inclined to employ someone who blatantly lied to you about their qualifications? Employers will always choose the former, so don’t risk being called a liar by taking the chance.
Therefore, anything you do that even remotely suggests suspicion could make it impossible for you to get recruited. even if you appear to be the most qualified applicant.
6. Even if you “get away with it,” you can still get caught in the future
Imagine that the lies you put on your CV prove to be true, and an employer decides to hire you because they like you. You lied on your résumé but were not discovered. Even if you get away with lying on your CV, you can still be discovered later.
When you can’t operate a piece of software that you claimed to have used in the past on your first day, your employer might figure it out. Maybe the finding won’t be made until 20 years from now after you’ve advanced in the organization. You are never completely “safe” in either situation.
7. Your lie can spoil your future employment chances
Let’s examine a professional who initially got away with falsifying information on their resume. After the firm learned that David Edmondson had previously misled on his resume, he was forced to quit as CEO of RadioShack in 2006. When he actually had none, Edmondson had falsely claimed to hold two college degrees. His professional reputation was destroyed and the incident garnered media attention.
8. You could end up under-qualified and over your head
It’s a good idea to modify your CV to match the requirements of the position. It is not a good idea to copy and paste the qualities and skills listed in the job description onto your resume even if you do not possess them.
A job that you are not qualified for is not something you want. Your bosses will notice how clueless, incapable, and stressed out you feel. Find a career that you will be excellent at doing and focus on your greatest traits and most marketable skills rather than attempting to be someone you are not.
9. Keeping all of your lies straight is harder than it sounds
It’s so much simpler, to tell the truth than to lie. You don’t have to be concerned about saying something that makes your entire house of cards fall apart or accidentally contradict yourself. During a hiring process, it might be challenging to keep track of all your lies.
How will you discuss a job you’ve never held in your interview? The worst part is that it will get harder to conceal your filthy little secret if you land the job. It becomes harder to keep lies straight as they multiply. Tell the truth to save yourself the trouble.
10. Employers know to look for lies on your resume
A 2014 CareerBuilder poll found that 58% of employers had detected a falsehood on a candidate’s résumé. Employing supervisors are aware that dishonesty on resumes is common. Many of them are able to recognize the warning indications.
In other words, don’t just assume that the information on your CV will be taken at face value by the recruiting manager.
Now that you are aware of the consequences of lying on your resume, you can assess if it is worthwhile. Every circumstance is unique, and many job seekers experiment with the occasional white lie on a resume.
However, in most cases, the risks of telling a big lie on your resume aren’t worth the potential reward. Most job seekers are better off telling the truth on their resumes.
Michael Klazema has been developing products for pre-employment screening and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. He is the lead author and editor for Backgroundchecks.com. He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys learning about culinary history.