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August 29, 2005

Lying on Your Resume

A colleague here at Monster suggested we blog about resume cheating. He'd been reading Freakonomics, which states that 50 percent of people lie on their resumes.

This email reminded me of the weatherman on my hometown news in Schenectady, New York. My parents sent me a newspaper clipping back while I was in college to let me know he was fired for not actually possessing the meteorologist degree he claimed to have on his resume. He defended himself explaining he was only a few credits short, but that wasn't enough for the station or the viewers.

And it looks like this self-proclaimed "meterorologist" wasn't alone. According to About.com -- and a number of other sites and articles I've spotted in my travels -- education is the most common topic people lie about on their resumes.

"Other common lies include:

  • Stretching dates to cover employment gaps
  • Enhancing job titles
  • Embellishing job duties and achievements
  • Inventing employers."

Why do people do this? Because they can get away with it provided the company doesn't perform background checks. (On a related note, check out this article about the companies least likely to do background checks -- scary.)

However, more companies are doing background checks, and job seekers need to remember that getting caught in a little white lie -- even after being hired -- can cost the job. There's a fine line between marketing yourself and lying. You need to be sure to stay on the right side of that line.

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Posted by Norma on August 29, 2005 at 01:46 PM in Job Search , Resume | Permalink | Comments (178) | TrackBack (0)


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yeah...it's real important to make sure that you don't lie to a potential employer who will lie, cheat and steal to make sure that shareholder's profits are maximized. if you're in the game, you'd better learn that the rules don't apply in most of corporate America. and by the way, if you can't figure out a way to enhance your resume by lying and NOT get caught by corporate rockheads, you don't deserve the job you're applying for.

Posted by: rick mears | Aug 30, 2005 9:52:01 PM

Most resume's that I have seen seem to glorify there job functions.
imagine this on resume: "Team Mentor and Technical Lead"
Or this: "Helped coworkers" or even "assisted people frequently with troubles. There is a certain amount of "window dressing" when it comes to resume's since employers never look at the possobilities just the past when it comes to resume's.

Posted by: Brian George | Aug 31, 2005 5:13:25 AM

somebody do lie just to profit

Posted by: ricky nazareno | Sep 2, 2005 11:48:20 PM

I worked as an assistant director @ a facility for about a month. Then I quite because I did not like the position.

Five years later another company took over the facility. They received a copy of my resume off of monster.com, and asked me to come in to interview for a Director position to run that facility.

Should I mention I used to work @ this facility when it was run by the former company during the interview?

Posted by: Mike | Sep 4, 2005 2:14:01 PM

I was fired from my last job for policy violation. HOw do I respond to the question about reason for leaving on the job application?

Posted by: Lori Smet | Sep 7, 2005 1:39:04 PM

I admit to lying on my resume, and I have absolutely no regrets about it at all. I have cheated in school, and I am definitely cheating when it comes to submitting my resume to employers because come on, in today's Corporate America, lying is a great thing. And I encourage EVERYONE in America who is looking for work to lie on their resumes in the best and most convincing way possible. Whether it's fabricating GPA scores, or making up fictitious businesses, or anything to showcase that you are a fraud, I ABSOLUTELY ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO LIE AND CHEAT ON THEIR RESUMES! And to the honest and ethical people out there who try to get jobs the smart way by being 100% honest on their resumes, shame on you.

Posted by: Mhuda | Oct 18, 2005 8:33:57 PM

You know; for years I was honest, and it hasn't gotten me anywhere, at least not since the last company I worked for outsourced its jobs to CHINA. I dont have the illustrious credentials that employers are looking for, but I do show up for work every day, and I do really put in the effort to get things done, so you know, I am tired of working lame jobs for $10/hour. So I figure, its time to lie. And reading the responses here, I can see that I have others who would agree. Lets face it; the past 20+ years have been nothing BUT lies for corporate types. All that I want is to be able to pay for the roof over my head, and the utlities, put enough gas in my car to get me to the next week, and hey, did I mention that I am also a middle-aged woman?? As if THAT were not reason enough to lie on my resume!!

Posted by: Karin | Oct 20, 2005 11:50:51 PM

Can you blame people though? I won't say that lying is right because it isn't, but these days you have to do what you can do to survive. Heck, it's been that way really since the beginning of time. When there is so much competition out there, people feel like they have to lie to get a fair chance. Many do and many more get away with it, and I admit I have been one of them.

Hey, bills have to be paid. McDonalds doesn't cut it.

Posted by: Alexandra | Oct 25, 2005 12:45:52 AM

Hi. The link attached to this comment is my blog, where I commented on this entry. Feel free to stop by and drop a line! Thanks.

Posted by: Laura Grow | Oct 25, 2005 11:39:28 AM

great information. im never going to lie on my resume after reading this.

Posted by: background check | Nov 1, 2005 7:00:16 PM

Look, I have a degree in MIS/CS but no experience. I tried to tell the truth and the result I got was ZERO!! Nobody even bothered to call me. And you know what, I KNOW that thousands of people got jobs by giving bogus resumes. I simply can't compete with them if I stick to truth. So, this time I am going to lie and make up business names and inflate my job descriptions and do whatever it is necessary to get jobs..ok??

Posted by: Anything but Truth | Nov 14, 2005 8:51:56 PM

I am an employer, I fired a person today for an untruthfull application...I feel very distressed about most of the feelings expressed on this blog, I will check out people more thourghly now, as it looks to be common practice among people...unfortnately, the person I fired was not paying attention to their responsibilites,..if they had done their job, it was not that hard, I would never have started looking so closely at the person who was let go, You see as an employer my company (corporation) is my life, if you as an employee do not understand that, then you will never get anywhere...I have given everyone that works for me the chance to make themselves as good as they can be, they usually crash and burn because they dont want the responsibility..I have had people just quit comming to work because they just dont know what work is, even though they have made more money than they have ever made in their life. I would love someone who understands how to make $100,000 in a year, but they may have have to work for 15 or 20 for a few of years to learn how...it is unfortuante that the attitude expressed here is as it is...

Posted by: Russell | Oct 5, 2006 7:28:32 PM

As competitive as it is out there to find suitable employment - I'm amazed that people will still think it's 'clever marketing' to lie on your resume to "get an edge" on other candidates.
I work in the screening industry - we are aware of the tricks that people play to make themselves appear better than they are. Companies who believe in employing the 'right people for the right job' will spend the money to verify information given on job applications. A screening company WILL verify that information because it is their core business. And for those who complain about measley pay: We are aware of the cost of living - are you aware of the cost of your lying - both to yourself and your potential employer?
Lies will always catch up with you - it's just a matter of time.

Posted by: IscreenU | Nov 19, 2006 8:02:25 AM

Companies and bosses have lied to me my whole life, while i sat there and got screwed. should i just tell the truth, get nowhere and let the lucky people of the world who don't have go through all that suceed while i go in a hole and die? sorry, im sick of it and im a fighter, im going to do what it takes to make it, even if that means lying to lyers.

Posted by: been through the ringer | Dec 6, 2006 10:14:21 AM

My question for the HR folk and Employment Ethicists is: Is it lying to not provide all the qualifications that someone has on a resume of application? Example, I have a Masters degree. If the position requires a BA/BS, is there any Law, Rule. or Policy that says I MUST disclose that I have a Masters? I guess the same applies to past positions held. I have held Director and above positions, but do I have to state these titles or would Manager suffice, as every one of these involved management responsibilities for employee hiring, termination, and career management? In short, can one be compelled to commit full disclosure, and if one "omits" qualifications, is that considered "lying"?

I am tired of being round filed with the "Overqualified" response from Recruiters.

Posted by: Overqualified | Dec 18, 2006 2:13:57 PM

lying is the only way to get ahead

Posted by: Nio Globan | Dec 31, 2006 3:36:44 AM

I have been working hard for several years to get what I deserve. I have not been successful so far, maybe because of me or maybe not, but to tell the truth many bad things have happened to me at the work place for being honest.

Many of my career mates have gone real far and have been successful by lying and cheating. Employers ask us to be honest most of the time but "honestly" they have lied to me several times and they have cheated me and promised me a hole bunch of things that were completely not true and they have given me a kick in my butt with no reason. I have also looked for new jobs with supposedly better companies and I have sent thousands of resumes. Headhunters and other human resources professionals have seen my resume and have told me it is impressive but so far no luck. So therefore I am going to have to start making up jobs, dates, responsabilities because being so honest has led me nowhere. "nice, good companies do not care if you are honest, they care about if you have worked for known brands, or you have held positions that you probably haven't held, or if your resume looks impressive (even though it might be all lies).

So, long story short, lie and you might as well get away with it, if you tell the truth you might end up losing more time and money.

Posted by: PD | Feb 22, 2007 2:06:46 AM

If you have no work experience no one wants to give you that first chance. What am I suppose to do, I have a degree but it means nothing without the work experience

Posted by: Patty | Feb 22, 2007 12:20:56 PM

It is amazingly astonishing, and quite frankly empowering to realize so many people have already jumped on the "resume-embellishing" bandwagon that I felt compelled to hop on due to my inconsistent professional background and my station in life. I am what I consider an honest, hard-working, diligent and conscientious middle-aged man. I don't lie, I don't steal, and I strongly believe in contributing to make this a better world. Growing-up in a war-torn nation, living in more than 7 countries before settling in the U.S., and losing my father at a young age when still struggling with culture shock and ample amounts of discrimination and bigotry, this unsettled pattern of instability has chronically manifested itself in my life. Though I was not able to obtain a college degree in my 20s', I work hard throughout my younger days and naively expected to be rewarded for my contributions. As many reading this opinion already know, that's a croc of bull...! After struggling to find my place in several industries and being let down every time, I finally decided to go back to my native land to play a more meaningful role in rebuilding a once beautiful paradise back to some semblance of its previous self. After an extended absence and yet another slew of disappointments (people are people wherever you go), I came back to the U.S., re-attended college and obtained a bachelors degree in Int. Business. Thinking I will do right by myself this time around and stick to my guns despite any potentially discouraging disappointments, I persevered to land the right job to no avail. One problem! My resume. With all the different jobs I have held, and the extended period I spent in a foreign country working only occasionally while concentrating on rebuilding my family's estate and dealing with legal issues, it's practically impossible to explain that to a prospective employer and expect understanding and a chance to prove myself. And the harsh reality is that like everybody else, I am bound to the living costs that come with urban living in modern America. All proponents of stating nothing but the absolute truth on ones resume, including the author of this article, fail to take in consideration that life is not always full of roses. Being truthful on your resume is to many people, if not the most, tantamount of shooting oneself in the foot. Might as well have a yard sale, sell all your worldly belonging and move to the park across the street! With all the job hunting advice articles I've read, I never read an article about those who face difficult circumstances that cannot be easily mitigated through following advice geared towards people who's lives unfolded smoothly with no glitches or obstacles. We claim we live in a nation where everyone, regardless of past mistakes and difficulties, can excel and succeed by working hard and being honest. I also believe that too! But No one gives you that chance, the tip of the string, if you are completely honest on your resume. I know I am an intelligent person with great education and a widely varied professional background, but I can't convey that to any potential employer by being honest on that one page I use to make a first impression. A resume is simply a gateway to an interview. I believe the interview is where an employer can turly make a real judgment about a potential employee. NOT the resume!! A resume is an ad, and since when were ads honest and truthful?!!

Posted by: FedUp | Feb 22, 2007 5:17:23 PM

Lieing is not good,I learnd the hard way,but now Iam back on top of my,!!But remmember don't lie on anything if you can!!!

Posted by: Ernest M | Feb 23, 2007 1:30:49 PM

Something like that happened to me I was working in a clinic as a "Medical Assistant", or so I claimed in my resume. After working in that clinic for five years, they called me in to the manager's office. Being so long that I was there for I had no clue it was going to be about that. Come to my surprise they fired me on the spot for false information. I never thought that after so long they would actually verify. They also told me they could take me to court for that. Don't lie on resumes it is not worth the trouble.

Posted by: annabel | Feb 24, 2007 3:19:00 PM


Posted by: RAHUL SHARMA | Feb 26, 2007 6:48:37 AM

Those who stand for the truth usually find themselves standing ALONE!!! Truth or lie is to often related to perception. Perception can be influenced. Material fact is the only thing that can be really judged as being true or false. Most job applications are used to weed out applicants. Kinda like "Anything you say can and WILL be used AGAINST you!! Honesty is an emotion not a job hunting tool. They can only verify facts not honesty or truth. Put down facts that verify in your favor!!!! This whole article screems HR is a waste of assets becuase they want it easy. Somebody complained about the cost associated lying for the business. Hey too bad, they are the ones that are hiring and most likely they are hiring because they lied to the guy/girl that vacated the position. DON'T LIE realign items that help your perception... ;o)

Posted by: NOT Standing ALONE!! | Feb 27, 2007 9:47:35 AM

I have a BS in Computer Science and Math. Telling the truth on my resume have gotton me no where. And I have graduated back in 2003. I am still looking for an entry level position. DO YOU KNOW HOW FRUSTRATING THAT IS??? So what do I have to lose by lying on my resume? It seems that my years in college was a complete waste of time. I am still working minimum wage jobs.

Posted by: Gonna Start Lying | Mar 1, 2007 9:23:22 PM

All those people (specially employers) who are so against lying on the resume should tell us how else to get the job? Employers are equally responsible for creating conditions that prompt people to lye. Look at the ridiculous job requirements in Information Technology. They are looking for very specific skills which only a minority has. With their tunnel vision, they miss out on all those potential employees who have a computer science degree but no experience (or having no desired experience). In today's job market, the Computer Science degree is simply useless because no one is getting hired based on just the computer science degree. I have a major in CS and 5years testing experience BUT not the kind of experience that is needed in the job market. Sometimes, it makes me angry that I wasted my time in Computer Science. I wish had done something else since no employers care for someone who has generic computer science skills. I really wish I can find an employer who understands that learning a technology quickly is so trivial that it can be learnt in no time. They should be reasonable in their demands. It is not possible to have experience in everything. Life does not work that way. No one can practically have experience in Java/J2EE, JSP, CSS, HTML, XML, PHP, SOAP, SDLC, .NET, MYSQL, SQL, PERL/Python/JavaScript all at once. Their might be few lucky ones who just landed the jobs where there were opportunities for newer technologies.

Until employers don't change THEIR attitude about head-hunting, candidates will keep lying about their skills.

Posted by: cant Keep up with all skills | Mar 2, 2007 11:34:03 PM

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