Lying on your resume? You are bound to get caught. This is how you make the truth sound better
Finding a job is challenging enough, but when your competition is cheating with resume lies, it can make standing out even tougher.
But lies on a resume won’t get you anywhere—except maybe in hot water.
According to the Monster Future of Work: 2021 Outlook survey, 66% of employers agreed that candidates exaggerate skills and competencies on their resumes. And in a survey of 400 applicants and 400 hiring managers, HR professionals, and recruiters, Checkster found a whopping 78% of applicants stretch the truth about themselves:
• 60% said they had mastery in skills they had basic knowledge of
• Over 50% said they worked at some jobs longer in order to omit an employer
• 45% gave a false reason for leaving a job
• 42.25% made up relevant experiences
• 41.25% used a director title when the actual title was a manager
• 39.25% claimed they had a degree from a prestigious university instead of their own
Newsflash: Companies will check your credentials, and yet, the resume lies are likely to continue. Why?
“I think fear is the main reason,” says Kim Isaacs, Monster’s resume expert. “Fear of not being good enough, fear of not measuring up to their peers, fear of not getting called for interviews. Some people will do whatever it takes to get an edge.”
More likely than not, putting lies on a resume will leave you skating along that edge. In Monster’s Grads to Candidates virtual career panel, Trevor Sherman, senior recruiter for Staples, said, “No matter what job you’re doing, if the interviewer gets the feeling or has evidence to show that they can’t trust you, that’s it.”
Whether you’re telling a little white lie or a blatant fabrication, getting caught could amount to career sabotage — especially since today’s technology and social media environments make it easier to get caught. And you will very, very likely get caught.
Monster Career Expert and former corporate recruiter Vicki Salemi told Monster’s virtual career panel, “We once had to fire someone because they lied on their resume and then we found out after they were hired.”
Three Most Common Resume Lies Job Seekers Tell
1. Education embellishments. Monster.com reports that some people try to make more of a course or two they took than they should. “We’ve had someone put down Cornell School of Hotel Management on their resume, when they only took one class online,” the site states. “[The candidate] didn’t graduate from there or even attend in person.”
Better bet: Instead of fudging your academic credentials, think about what you can add to your resume to demonstrate your education. Other professional development, honors or awards, and extra coursework might be relevant, says Isaacs.
2. Date deception. Another common deceit is to cover up employment gaps by “stretching dates for one or two jobs to cover a time gap, or fabricating an interim job,” according to monster.com.
Better bet: It’s sometimes a good strategy to preemptively squash concerns an employer may have about gaps on your resume, monster.com states. If you took time off to raise a family, care for a loved one, go back to school, or take on an independent project, explain your circumstances in your cover letter and be sure to stress how committed you are to finding a job you can grow with.
3. Skill stretching. Many job candidates offer up a laundry list of technical proficiencies, but just because you used a program a few times doesn’t make you an expert. The same goes if you claim to be fluent in a language just because you took a year of it in high school.
Better bet: Only list skills that you are truly prepared to demonstrate on the spot.
How You Can Get Caught Lying on Your Resume
If you think you can pull one over on potential employers, think again. It’s probably true that many job seekers do get away with a slight exaggeration here, an omission there, but eventually, misrepresentations can come back to bite you.
“Hiring managers have their antennae up when reviewing resumes,” says Isaacs, “and they’re relying on background checks, reference checks, online research, social media sleuthing, and in-person interviews to determine the truth.”