Resume Lies Employers Can See Right Through

Catherine Tabuena
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Have you ever lied on your resume? You’ll be surprised to know that a whopping 85 percent of employers have caught applicants fibbing on resumes. People often stretch the truth on resumes in a desperate attempt to land work. However, honesty really is the best policy. You should never lie when applying for a job. You risk damaging your reputation, getting passed over for job offers, getting fired, or even getting sued for fraud if your lies are revealed while employed. Thanks to the Internet, it’s easier than ever for hiring managers to spot fictitious resumes. Here are resume lies employers can see right through.

  • Lying about Employment Dates

One of the most common fibs on resumes is employment dates.

About 25 percent of employees have lied about their job tenure. Employment dates that don’t add up are highly suspect and a recruiter can quickly figure out your lie by making a quick call to your past employer to find out that you worked there for only two months, not two years.

Employers are also suspicious of resumes that list job history by year rather than month and year. It will only prompt HR managers to conduct further with scrutiny.

  • Lying by Giving Vague Job Descriptions

Resumes with ambiguous descriptions such as “familiar with” or “involved in” may be signs of trying to downplay a lack of experience.

Similarly, vague employment dates such as job listings with only years written make recruiters wary.

Hiring managers who find questionable information on a resume will probably ask detailed questions about a candidate’s work experience. They will assess the candidate based on the depth and quality of the response. A less than stellar answer usually means that the person is lying.

  • Lying about your Skills

Because skill stretching on resumes is prevalent, many employers today ask candidates to demonstrate their talent on the spot.

Pre-employment screening tests such as physical ability tests, job knowledge tests, and skills assessment tests are quickly becoming the new norm.

A candidate who fails such a basic test is proven to have either stretched the truth or puffed up their abilities, both of which are guaranteed to take you out of the running for a job.

  • Lying by Giving Inconsistent Information

When a job seeker’s resume and cover letter don’t match, that is a red flag to employers that a candidate is not being entirely honest.

An error-free, flawlessly written resume paired with a muddled cover letter raises suspicion- it could suggest that you got help with your C.V. or perhaps even taken another person’s work history to pass off as your own.

A candidate unable to recall key details of their past job experience during an interview is another sign they have lied about their past employment.

Many employers look at a candidate’s resume and LinkedIn profile before an interview. If they notice something is off- like let’s say, your resume indicated you have a degree while your LinkedIn profile doesn’t- it could raise some questions.

Consistency is key. It’s important to match dates and basic facts on your resume to your website and social media profiles.

  • Lying about your Job Title

If a job title seems too good to be true, it most likely is.

Unless you’re Mark Zuckerberg, hiring managers would be leery of a twenty-three-year-old in C-suite.

Never inflate your job title! A prospective employer could call your ex-boss to confirm your title(s) during your time there.

You shouldn’t exaggerate your job responsibilities either. An employer might ask you questions regarding specific job-related processes and it will become apparent when you can’t answer the questions.

  • Lying about your Alma Mater

Lying about your degree or education is the biggest deal breaker for most employees.

Don’t even think about fibbing, even if you attended the school but are only one semester short from graduating.

Technology has made it easy and cost-effective for potential employers to check on a candidate’s educational background either by calling the school directly or using a degree and enrollment verification service, such as Qualification Check and the National Student Clearinghouse.

A third party, such as a co-worker, mutual friend, or family members, can also clue an employer into a lie.

I know someone who falsely listed employment at a company his employer’s wife used to work at during his supposed time of tenure. Bob* (not his real name) was asked questions for names of other managers and co-workers there. He couldn’t respond. When the employer informed him that his wife worked for the company, Bob* finally came clean. Obviously, he didn’t get the job.

  • Lying about Job References

Recruiters know that speaking to a candidate’s references results in hearing only good things since they’ve been coached to say the positives and evade the negatives.

If you give fake job references and the recruiter becomes suspicious, he or she might conduct a backdoor reference to verify the information.

They use backdoor referencing to assess a candidate’s personality traits and job performance. Recruiters will research and contact ex-colleagues or past employers of a candidate to ask about his or her job performance.

They might use LinkedIn, look at your social media profile and connections, Google searches, contact alumni groups, and even conduct a face-to-face meeting with an acquaintance to gain secondary information about an individual. Once a recruiter finds out a candidate has lied, it marks the person as a “Do Not Hire”.

In the end, lying on your resume is bound to make things more troublesome. Resume padding no longer remains unnoticed by most employers. Not only is it unethical but you also risk damaging your professional reputation. Don’t be tempted to exaggerate your credentials. Lying on your resume isn’t worth it.


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Paul B. that certainly is correct. Lying on a resume just doesn't pay. Employers are getting wiser to this and some are requiring that you prove you have the skills and knowledge that you claim to have. They are doing a sort of "working" interview. So it's always best to tell the truth from the get-go.

  • Paul B.
    Paul B.

    I suppose one factor is that people do not realize that their resume is in fact a legal document. So any misrepresentation of your abilities and skill level to a potential employer, could in fact lead to hireability consequences

  • Al N.
    Al N.

    Ok..Now lets have an article that covers all the unscrupulous practices being employed by HR Professionals, Hiring Managers, and Recruiters. It’s seriously time for this to get some high political visibility and some laws in place. These articles are always throwing Job Seekers under the bus- There really is another side.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Tim E. thanks for your comment. Sadly many people do lie on their resumes. They lie about age, experience, education and skills. Sure there are bad managers out there - the same as always. But there are also desperate job seekers who will embellish their resumes just so that they can get their foot in the door. They figure they can wing it until they learn. Sadly that's what makes employers distrust resumes and why they search out other places such as LinkedIn and running a Google search. It's great that as one who screens resumes you are not finding liars but they are certainly out there.

  • Tim E.
    Tim E.

    Lying,lying,lying. Hiring managers like to cover all the inexperienced, politic people hiring practices they done. Just another way to cover their tracks, or a small % of it. There needs to be columns on bad hiring managers, not bad employee practices. To be honest and upfront. As an account manager I do all my HR hiring. Most people don’t lie, upper management likes to cover there tracks, mistakes, among other things. So cut the employee crap.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Constance W. thanks for the comment. So true. Being honest and upfront is the best way. Lying on your resume might get your foot in the door but if you can't do the job you were hired to do, it's true, you won't last long. So yes - honesty is always the best policy. Be yourself and you will get that job.

  • Constance W.
    Constance W.

    Honestly the best way to get hired on job. Why because your performance, reputation at risk besides you wont last long . Theres nothing employers cant find out about a person. Hopefully someone will mess updo something and that's where I hope I would come in be honest up front about who I am not look like fool. Managers screen individuals try weed out applicants so makes there time more valuable finding an person of special interested in getting job and keeping one which is why process takes so much time. Hopefully They call me see valuable individual who respects the company I stand for. I do same because not only costly to company we all make less so why not hire only best.

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