You worked for the company for several years. You are the best performer and on the fast track to another promotion. Everyone loves you. Tomorrow you’ll lose your job. They discovered that you had falsified or fabricated something in your resume. This cautionary tale should be enough to make you reconsider. We will discuss lying on resumes, cover letters, and job applications.

You Will Be Caught

According to the CareerBuilder latest study, 75% of hiring managers find lies in resumes. Most of us lie to prospective employers.

There’s a chance that you will get away with lying on a job application or resume. Maybe your resume’s false was good enough, or the company didn’t check it out. Or perhaps you don’t stay long enough to find out the truth. These are the “best-case” scenarios. Yet, job seekers should not rely on them much. The odds are against resumes’ lies.

These are just a few of the many ways that you might be caught.

  • Background check
  • Story-wise, your cover letter, resume, or job application do not match.
  • They simply make a phone call to your old job.
  • Your boss isn’t privy to the truth.
  • Your coworkers are not privy to the truth.
  • Your resume and skills are now put to the ultimate test.
  • Your university denies that you have graduated or taken the major/minor.
  • Dates, fake job titles, and so on do not add up or make sense.
  • Google is the best way to learn all the truth.

These are some of the most common ways you can be found out, but not all.

You want a resume that gets you an interview without having to lie. You may want to see more resume examples here to learn how to show your proficiency without lying.

Are There Acceptable Lies?

In no instance a person lying in a resume or interview is justifiable. Many career experts agree that lying on a resume is unacceptable, no matter how small a lie may be. You should remove a statement that you know is false from a resume, cover letter, or job application.

A lie may seem insignificant and not cause direct harm to the business or a person. Yet, it will be harmful to your professional reputation. It is better to put extra time into a resume or acquire more experience than to put a prospective position at risk.

Experts’ Opinions on Lying

Career experts, HR managers, consultants, and recruiters discuss lying during the employment process.

The founder and chief talent manager at Naviga Recruiting, Kathleen Steffey, says: “There are no cases where lying would be acceptable.” Employers can easily find out if a candidate is lying on a resume or application or through formal background checks and references. There are certain situations where you should not disclose information upfront to prevent discrimination— for example, the year of graduation.

She continued with an excellent analogy: “It’s kinda like dating. You should not be able to continue looking for a partner if you find them lying at your first dinner. No!”

Matthew Burr of Burr Consulting reveals the truth about an applicant lying to him. “It’s over. I don’t even have the patience to deal with someone lying during an interview or a hiring process. No matter what level, we invest in someone to help them succeed. Two situations (both HR hires) in which people lied about education levels were both in my experience. In both cases, we didn’t hire. It’s easy to catch someone lying if you do your research.”

“Interviewers can be very concerned if they discover that someone has lied. How would they lie if they were actually offered the job? How trustworthy can these people be? These questions can raise enough doubt that interviewers may be tempted to dismiss the candidate,” says Steve Pritchard, a Ben Sherman HR Consultant.

Perla Arroyo, a Skillhub career advice expert, states: “When someone lies on their resume or during an interview, I examine how trivial or serious it was and how it might impact the job function. Although it would raise questions about their trustworthiness, the lie could also signify their desperate desire to get the job. When deciding, I weigh the gravity of each situation against the other circumstances and then monitor them throughout the probation period.”

The Consequences of Lying on a Job Application

While there are only a handful of consequences for lying in your employment process, they can damage your professional career.

Most of the time, you will be fired right away (or hired later). You could be fired if you worked for a while before the lie was discovered. This occasion will disappoint your boss, turn your coworkers and friends against you, and can severely affect your personal life.

Is it a Law Violation to Lie in a Resume?

Technically, it’s not illegal to lie on a job application, resume, or cover letter. These forms are not legal documents, so you won’t be prosecuted for lying. Falsifying documents that “backup” claims about educational histories, such as these forms, could lead to trouble with the law.

It is important to remember that every jurisdiction has its laws. Texas Penal Code SS32.52, for example, states that “a person commits a crime if he or she uses or claims to have a postsecondary degree that he or she knows is fictitious,” among other things.

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The Surprising Truth About Lying in Interviews

Employers can’t retaliate against you if you lie about answering illegal interview questions. Questions about your religion, physical appearance, or other sensitive information violate your civil rights. You can lie or not answer these questions if you consider them too personal. Technically, you do not lie. It’s better to point it out or change the subject.

The Key Takeaway

This article exists to make a simple point: do not lie in a resume or cover letter for an interview. A lie in a resume, big or small, will not win anything. Besides, with the proper preparation for a resume, you will not have to lie.


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