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Alison Doyle

Lying on Your Resume

By April 1, 2013

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Whenever I write about lying on your resume, I get a  variety of responses, both for and against lying to get a job:

  • Lying on resumes, regardless of your status, just does not cut it!
  • If there is a lie you can get away with then do it.
  • People who get ahead are the ones who take some educated risks.
  • Just tell me how to do it, if I so choose.
  • If you think you can get away with it and you are willing to take the risk then you have made your call.
  • Let's be real, if a CEO can get away with being hired and working for years with lying on resume so should any of us.
  • Lying on a resume is just plain dumb. The trend seems to be to check an applicant's references out more and more, unless you are a burger flipper.

I don't think anyone should lie on their resume - and despite the requests I get, I'm not going to teach anyone how to lie on their resume and get away with it.   Despite the fact that lying is just plain wrong, there is a good possibility your lies will come back to haunt you. Is it worth taking the chance of not getting a job or getting fired later on?

Here's an example. I received an email a while ago from someone who had just received a job offer from a company where he had always wanted to work. It was the job of his dreams. He didn't think about reference checking though and had fudged the dates of his last couple of jobs to cover a resume gap.

He was in absolutely panic and trying to come up with a story to cover the "mistake" on his resume. He decided to be honest with the hiring manager, and was lucky that he kept his job offer, but that's not always how it works out.

Read More: Resume Tips | Resume Samples | Would You Lie On Your Resume?

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April 11, 2010 at 1:23 pm
(1) The great candidate they always ignore says:

Yes. I agree. But some Job Descriptions have been designed for candidates to lie.

And the line between highliting or “inflating”, in order to sell your skills and experience, and lying is sooooo thin…!!!

April 11, 2010 at 4:19 pm
(2) Nina says:

Lying on a resume is wrong. But I have stretched the truth a bit on occasion. For example.

I wrote instructions on how items in my office should be handled in my absence, So I wrote office policy. When I was out sick (2 mos) a temporary took my place, but I was contacted at home to handle complex problems that the temp did not know how to handle, so I have experience in telecommuting. Now, being self employed, I have gone to trade shows and discussed my product and handed out business cards, therefore I have generated sales leads through trade shows (even though I never bought a table).

When I started my business, I was told by my accountant that if I was at lunch with friends, and the subject turned to my business, I could pick up the tab and claim it as a business expense. Why is this any different?

I’m not saying that a janitor who answers a phone at the office can call himself a receptionist but if you have done a job, and it is IN LINE with what you already do (example, a person who sells Avon could say they generate sales leads if they put samples on every door in their neighborhood), stretching the truth may just help you in your job search.

April 12, 2010 at 12:30 am
(3) Doug Roach says:

Even if I could get away with lying, I wouldn’t want to go there at least as much because I’m not very good at lying as realizing how serious the consequences can be if caught.

It’s not just the lying to one company that concerns me, it’s networks like LinkedIn that could allow all managers and HR personnel connect and discuss the things that they are not legally supposed to discuss.

Say I claimed a doctorate, and lost my job because of the lie. It may well get around, even if I never claimed it again, and ruin my chances for other prime opportunities. I look at the proposition long term, assuming that technology will give all business more transparency into our work lives and a longer memory for dishonesty.

I’m not sure what, if anything, has ever disappeared from the internet, but it can’t be much!

- Doug

April 12, 2010 at 6:31 pm
(4) Elizabeth says:

I was a firm believer in not lying on one’s resume until I was fired. After some negotiation we came to an agreement that they would give me a neutral reference and I signed a non-disclosure letter.

I hated including that phase of my work history in my resume. I am still very unconfortable about fudging or white lies.

How would you suggest dealing with this?

April 12, 2010 at 10:32 pm
(5) Ron says:

A lot of bosses are hitler-esque and fire you for no reason, or other jobs promise you the world and are outright scams, if you quit and need a new job, you gotta do what you have to do to feed yourself and your family. Watch movie Office Space or the Office, that’s the reality of American office culture today – pathetic bureaucratic BS and office politics. That’s why you put down your boss who is actually your friend that worked there with you who “supervised” you, making your experiences sound better, etc – to get the interview. All I’m saying is, scam or be scammed.

April 13, 2010 at 2:49 am
(6) George Black says:

Lying sucks! Good luck if you try it as it never works. (Thor will gleefully blast you with a super thunder bolt as you are now fair game & no amount of rationalization will aid you).

April 14, 2010 at 3:39 pm
(7) Anna Nonymous says:

In THIS market? Ethics go out the window when there’s a table lacking food. Do you want to be ‘honest’ and jobless, or hired and fudge on your resume?

Get real. One out of every 8 Americans is out of work, factoring in those who have been unemployed for months. Take the example of the great president who let this morgage crisis cripple the economy of america and who sent trillions of our dollars into Iraq instead of keeping them here where they belong. Do what Bush did…and LIE!

April 14, 2010 at 6:02 pm
(8) Kitty says:

Too many people confuse tailoring your resume to the job with lying. Still, there are times.

For instance, being in the technology industry, I see people frequently asking for candidates with over 10 years experience in a product that has only been around for 6. In this case, even if I only have 6 years experience, it’s obvious the hiring agent has no clue what they’re talking about, and really, knowledge older than five years in my field is irrelevant to the point of being antique. Might as well put down 10 years so you get by their qualification filter, and if they bring it up in contention, tell them exactly what I just told you.

It’s not a catch 22, because if they’re looking to trick people with a job posting, then they aren’t the type of person you want to work for anyways.

April 15, 2010 at 2:20 am
(9) Paul Preston says:

I learned this from http://www.resumedictionary.com and there are actually writing techniques which you can use on your resume to exaggerate or further describe your past work history, etc., without seeming like lying on your resume. Just use a little play on words on your resume, it could help

April 15, 2010 at 2:05 pm
(10) ParentJobNet says:

It’s important that you emphasize your skill-set. That’s probably the only “lie” you can get away with.

April 24, 2010 at 7:55 pm
(11) Family member who knows says:

My brother lied about his arrest record on his Army application and was dishonorably discharged when the lie was caught. He later lied about his age and qualifications for a job at a lab and was later fired when the lies were found out. I have never lied on my resume and have a 25-year continuous work record. I think this speaks for itself.

May 28, 2010 at 3:54 pm
(12) truly scared says:

Ok – I recently got the job offer of my dreams. I lied on resume.. its been the same since I did the lie 4 yrs ago. I never finished my degree. But now I’m scared this employer will find out. I don’t want to put notice in where I am at until I’m sure. But they want me to start in 2 wks. I’m so scared – and I don’t finish school until next yr. My family says I’m paranoid because its never cost me a job before, but I am truly scared.

August 3, 2011 at 11:47 am
(13) Chris says:

So did you take the job? What was the outcome?

January 20, 2011 at 2:53 pm
(14) Steve says:

I worked very hard for five years at a company with no lying on resume. Was laid off when company did some restructuring. Then I started looking for a job in same field with no success. My friend who was a senior consultant at a big firm with 12 yrs experience (just on his resume) told me the trick. I prepared a 8yrs resume with totally different market and got the best job (of course with more salary, less work). I was against the lying till I found the reality that in today’s’ world truth doesn’t take you anywhere.

June 3, 2011 at 8:47 pm
(15) Tam says:

Career counselors are not going to tell you to lie on a resume because that will put their jobs at sake. But I do not know of any company that hires people that been out of work for a long time or with a criminal record. People who have red flags in their past are not going to get a job any time soon by telling the truth. People who have been working for companies for many years and later fired for lying on a resume, should not focus on what they loss but what they gained. They gained job experience that they would not have gained in the first place. If you have been in millions of job interviews with no luck, then what exactly are you losing?

June 19, 2011 at 11:22 am
(16) DE says:

Look at your poll! It says that around 50% are willing to lie on their resume. That’s a staggeringly huge percentage!

In todays world, and todays horrible economic reality, it appears that people are willing to lie to survive.

Given the fact that people are losing their homes and livelihoods, in general, constantly under the threat of losing ones job or being laid off, and the possibility of finding employment becoming much, much more difficult, and of course, with children to care for, I’m thinking that 50% will rise even more!!

April 2, 2013 at 10:13 am
(17) Sharon says:

It’s a dog eat dog world out there, I was brought up to believe in honesty and integretiy and it got me no place, so know I do what ever has to be done to achieve my goals. I feel no guilt about it in fact i am proud of how clever I can be.

April 8, 2013 at 11:14 am
(18) Sue says:

The best advice I give to job seekers is to think like a politician as far as putting a spin on it. You are telling the truth, but not the whole truth as you are telling the truth according to what each different potential employer wants out of you (as a potential employee). Therefore, what you say to one employer may be completely different than what you say to another employer, just as the politician tells his or her story a bit differently to each group of people based on what each group of constituents want to hear.

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