What’s The Truth About Lying On Resumes?

Applying for a job is a daunting, no matter how qualified you might be. If you’re tempted to stretch the truth a little, you’re not alone.

While less than 15% of people admit to lying on resumes, an estimated 50% of resumes contain falsehoods. Now, I’m not sure how strict the conductors of the studies that found these numbers were being. If you don’t remember the exact date you finished a job last year, and you estimate and are wrong, does that count? But altering employment dates is small fish compared to claiming to have a degree that you don’t have. That takes cajones, as does falsifying references.

While there’s not much you can do for experience or qualifications if you don’t have them, you can at least ensure that your resume looks dang good and is well-organized. We’ve got an infographic that will walk you through the anatomy of an outstanding resume, so you can stand tall at your next interview.

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  1. I guess I think too long-term and from a risk management point of view to lie on my resume. If you lie on your resume your employer can, at any time, learn about the lie and terminate your employment for it. Why begin a relationship with a lie? That’s adding stress to your life for the entire time you are employed. I’ve seen C-suite executives toppled from their positions for this several times. One said he had a degree from a University where he played football but never graduated and another said he was an Olympic athlete when he wasn’t.

    The better course of action is to practice continuous self-improvement. It’s amazing how much you’ll have for your resume when you focus on growing yourself by seeking out opportunities and learning every time you can.

    • I wholeheartedly agree that if you lie on your resume you are committing what amounts to career suicide. However, it depends on how big your lie was and what percentage of the truth is contained in it. For instance if you are asked about having a particular skill or knowledge of a certain topic if your knowledge is very limited you can still rightfully put that on your resume as long as you have had “exposure” to that skill or knowledge by virtue of this fact. Once again putting something on your resume that has no basis in truth you may very well face termination. Knowing how to slant your resume to highlight certain skills or put yourself in the most optimum position to get the job you really want the best thing to do is work with a recruiter (there may be a fee for resume service) or resume writer is the best course of action.

      • Yes, applicants can word things vaguely. I guess it is then up to the hiring manager to have skill at determining whether the resume is specific enough. I just looked at my old resume (from before I was self-employed) and I was very specific, “Good to thorough understanding of risks, features, compliance requirements, tax implications, uses and benefits of:” which was followed by a lengthy list of products (i.e. trusts, bonds, stocks, etc.) and laws and regulations that were specifically named. The next section was more vague with, “Experience interacting with:” followed by a list of regulatory agencies, Boards, etc.

        But then, a compliance officer/risk manager has to be transparent because reputation is still important in that arena. There’s not much point in having a compliance officer who isn’t trustworthy.