Lying On Resumes

You can call it exaggerating, polishing or embellishing, but most human resources people and managers call it lying.

Overstating your qualifications on a resume may be tempting to some, but it’s become more prevalent now that companies are receiving hundreds of applicants for each position.

Resume lies can sit undetected indefinitely or you can get caught, and potentially lose your career and your credibility.  But beware: getting caught lying on a resume can ruin years of genuine hard work and achievement.

And the chances of getting caught are greater these days, as companies take a closer look at their candidates, scrutinizing backgrounds and checking all the references.

What are some other big names that have gotten caught in recent years? 

George O’Leary resigned as the Notre Dame football coach five days after being hired, admitting he lied about his academic and athletic background.  He didn’t have a master’s degree and had never even played football in college.

Senator Joe Biden, who was seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, had apparently plagiarized passages in speeches and interviews in addition to inflating his academic record.

Michael Brown, who headed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) before Hurricane Katrina, had come under heavy criticism for his performance.  He was replaced after an investigation by TIME found discrepancies in his online legal profile and official bio.

Sadly, surveys indicate that as many as one-third of all job seekers lie on their resumes. In a poll of 150 hiring executives at large companies, the executives estimated that nearly 30 percent of all job candidates lie on their resumes. According to a San Francisco lawyer who has investigated hundreds of resumes while defending companies against former employees, people lie about 90 percent of the time.

A Society for Human Resource Management study found that only 30 percent of all people hiring verify the authenticity of references in letters provided by candidates. Given the above statistics, it seems that buyers need to be more aware.

The most frequent resume lies, from most common to least common, are:


Job title


Reason for leaving


Even though it seems so common and perhaps acceptable these days, and the likelihood is that you won’t get caught, you don’t need to take chances with your career. Whether you’re a senator, a football coach, an engineer in Huntsville’s research park, or a CEO, do not lie on your resume. Your resume can be written in such a way that it remains truthful, yet downplays your weaker areas and highlights your talents.


By: Rose Opengart, Interviews That Work

© 2018, Rose Opengart, Interviews That Work

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