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The Dangers of Lying on Your Resume

written by: N Nayab•edited by: Ginny Edwards•updated: 12/12/2010

Lying on resumes is a dangerous practice and can have far reaching adverse consequences on one's career. Read on to find out the many dangers of lying on resume.

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    Lying on Resume Lying on resume is commonplace, with an estimated 50 percent of all resumes having some lies. A 2008 CareerBuilder.com survey revealed 8 percent of employees having fudged some part of their resume, and 49 percent of employers identifying that employees have lied in their resumes.

    Lying when filling out applications or on resumes is however, a dangerous practice that has far-reaching implications on one’s career. A resume is an official document and misrepresentation of facts is enough grounds for any company to fire the employee, without prejudice to any other action.

    Image Credit: flickr.com/WoodleyWonderworks

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    Common Lies

    The most common lies in resumes include

    • Making false claims of education such as claiming to complete education they did not finish, or never attended
    • Stretching dates to cover gaps in employment
    • Enhancing job titles
    • Claiming false job descriptions
    • Inventing employers or jobs to cover gaps or add to work experience
    • Lying about reasons for leaving
    • Exaggerating salary drawn

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    How Lies Are Exposed

    The increasing concern about security has prompted most organizations to undertake a thorough background screening of the employees they hire. While lies in the resume might pass initial scrutiny and get interview calls, most companies entrust the background check to independent third party agencies before they make the job offer. For positions that require appointment, the candidate might take up employment, but the background check still takes place.

    The background checking firm’s reputation depends on the ability to detect lies, and as such they leave no stone unturned to make background checks, which include following up on the employers listed in the resume for dates and job descriptions, and checking the authenticity of qualifications and certificates listed. Most investigation firms also check the criminal background history. Lies in the resume thus invariably come out, and the candidate face the ignominy of either having the job offer withdrawn or fired from a new job.

    The increasing competitive nature of the workforce leaves little room to hide skills and qualifications. Employers who hire candidates based on the claims made in the resume expect the candidate to walk the talk, and perform according to the claims. Inability to perform soon leads to suspicions, and a deeper check might unearth lies, and lead to an inglorious exit.There have been many instances when simple resume lies made early in the career has come back to haunt the employee after he or she has advanced into senior positions, and such lies have wrecked the employee's otherwise illustrious career.

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    Consequences

    What can an employer do if someone lies on their resume?

    All employers, without exception straightaway terminate the employee. The danger of lying on resume can also extend to far more than terminations from the job. Lying on a resume establishes the person's untrustworthiness, and if word gets out, the candidate invariably becomes unemployable. Many organizations now share such information through industry guilds, making lying on resume to gain advantage not worth its while.

    Forging certificates to claim qualifications or experience is a criminal offense and carries a fairly severe penalty, leading even to imprisonment if the employer pursues the case to its logical conclusion.

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    The Right Strategy

    A thin line separates tweaking the resume to make a favorable impression and misrepresenting facts.

    The correct approach in dealing with inconvenient facts is not mentioning such facts, or not highlighting inevitable inconvenient facts. For instance, the candidate could mention a work experience from which he or she had an inglorious exit in passing, without contact details of the company, or can even omit such experience citing it as non-relevant for the job applied by structuring the resume in functional non-chronological order. Trying to interpose another work experience during this time, or stretching work experience dates is lying and asking for trouble.

    Again, while employers may accept converting a 3.29 GPA into 3.3, converting 3.10 GPA or even 3.21 GPA into 3.3 is lying.

    Finally, honesty is still the best policy, and many employers appreciate a honest employee who admits his or her mistakes, provided they can also prove that they have learned from such mistakes and would not repeat such mistakes in the new job.

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    References

    1. Zimmermann, Mike. “The ‘Oh $#*!’ Moment: Got Caught Fudging Your Resume?." Retreived from http://moneywatch.bnet.com/career-advice/article/lying-on-your-resume-how-to-survive-getting-caught/477653/ on 05 December 2010.
    2. MonsterBlog. Lying on Your Resume. http://monster.typepad.com/monsterblog/2005/08/lying_on_your_r.html. Retrieved 05 December 2010.