Lying on Your Resume

The purpose of your resume is to convince a potential employer that you're the best person for a job. Naturally, you want your resume to show a wide range of skills and experiences that make you the perfect candidate. Unfortunately, Some people bulk up their resumes with untruths to get them at the top of the candidates list.

Why people lie on their resumes

The potential payoff of landing a new job can increase the temptation to lie in even some of the most forthright individuals. Resume dishonesty ranges from tiny white lies to Moby-Dick-sized white whale whoppers. The following dishonest "tactics" have landed job hunters in hot water on more than one occasion:

  • Exaggerating job titles: Because job titles are not standardized across companies, artificially upgrading a title can seem like an easy way to make previous positions sound more important. Remember, though, that job titles are one of the simplest things to check up on — a previous employer is just a phone call away.

  • Fudging employment dates: Sometimes, people will pad the employment dates of previous positions to hide periods of unemployment. This type of lie may appeal to a lot of recent or soon-to-be college grads who might have no work experience. However, there are ethical and honest ways to account for gaps in employment, job-hopping, and even a criminal record.

  • Making up academic credentials: Sometimes people feel justified adding made-up credentials for subjects they studied on their own, feeling that they know the information, but they don't know how else to include it on their resumes. Not all of your experiences falls under either previous jobs or institutional education. Find somewhere else on your resume to include skills you've learned on your own, and be prepared to prove your knowledge in the field.

  • Making up jobs with fictitious companies: This is the big humdinger of resume lies, and also the hardest to get away with. With the plethora of Internet resources available, checking on the basic facts of your resume claims is a piece of cake.

Why you shouldn't lie on your resume

If you lie on your resume and then get the job, those lies become liabilities. Not only do you have to try to live up to the lie, but you constantly worry that the lie will be discovered. Employers sometimes review their employees' resumes, especially if someone exhibits poor performance — which is a big possibility for someone who lied about his or her skills to get the job.

Regardless of your job performance, lying on your resume is grounds for being fired, and possibly for a lawsuit. By lying about your past, you put your future at risk.