3 Big Tips For (Avoiding) Lying On Your Resume

Ryan Morris
by Ryan Morris
Get The Job - 3 years ago

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Regardless of what you might see thousands of politicians and corporate execs doing every day on national TV, lying is actually a bad thing.

In almost any situation, lying is a bad idea, and we don’t just mean from a moral standpoint.

That’s because even in cases where lying can be justified in some way, it’s still incredibly easy to get caught.

Especially if the place where you’re lying is on your resume.

“Hmm. Well, go big or go home, right?” *Types ‘Invented Facebook’ into resume.*

But how can resume lies, even mostly harmless ones, get you in trouble further down the line? And what do you do when you feel like the truth just won’t cut it?

We put together a few tips to help you deal with this situation.


1. How Lying On Your Resume Can Get You in Big Trouble (If You’re Caught)

We should preface this article by saying that not getting caught for lying is a distinct, albeit remote, possibility.

There are people who have lied on their resumes in a major way who have almost certainly never been found out, or at least never experienced any major consequences for their actions.

“Hey Jerry, on your resume you said you were great at Microsoft Word, but every company memo I’ve ever gotten from you has had numerous spelling and formatting errors. Also, they’re all in Comic Sans. Care to explain?”

But here’s the thing: the longer you work for a particular place, the higher the chances are that someone will find out you’re lying.

And the longer you’ve lived with that lie, the more severe your consequences are going to become.

Any of the following things has the potential to happen after lying on a resume:

  • It might be discovered as early on as during the background check that your employer does on you, at which point you’ll more than likely be immediately disqualified from any job opening.
  • It could come up at any point while you’re working with someone, whether through everyday conversations that don’t add up, or even just through your own inability to do the kind of work that you should — according to your listed experience — be capable of doing.
  • Even if you end up working at the same place for decades, you might still be found out and fired at some point down the line.
  • And if you manage to get a job somewhere else based on experience at a job that you only had because of a lie, you could still get fired for having lied at the first job — again, if you’re found out.

2. Stretching the Truth vs. Lying

That being said, people stretch the truth every day on their resumes.

Not only do they tend not to get in trouble for this, but a certain amount of stretching-the-truth is kind of expected by most hiring managers.

“Moroccan Oil — is that like Olive Oil or something? I’ll just say I cook with it all the time, nobody reads these things anyway.”

However, it’s very important to distinguish between stretching the truth, which you’ll probably get away with, and with outright lying, which you almost certainly won’t.

Truth-Stretches You Can Probably Get Away With:

  • Start and end dates for positions, as long as you’re not off by more than a few months. Most hiring managers are aware of the fact that people don’t have the best memories, and won’t care if you’re off by a month or two here.
  • Skills that you can easily pick up, like basic HTML, Excel, or other programs that don’t require years of experience to become functional with.
  • Irrelevant experience that you’re able to sell as being relevant. This is actually a pretty important thing to do in many cases where your previous work experience doesn’t directly relate to the job you’re currently applying for. You won’t have a ton of directly relevant experience, so you’ll have to get creative with the experience that you do have.

Outright Lies You Will Certainly Get Fired For at Some Point:

  • Saying you went to a particular school that you didn’t actually go to, or have degrees that you didn’t actually earn, is one of the easiest ways to get fired — even several years down the line.
  • Making up entire companies that you worked for. Even if your interviewer can’t directly prove that these companies never existed, the lack of evidence that they DID exist will be seen as remarkably suspect, and can prevent you getting a job in the first place.
  • Writing that you held a particular job title that you didn’t actually hold, regardless of how well your job experiences aligned with that position, is a particularly egregious lie that you’ll almost always get caught for. It’s just too easy to check.

. Is “Embellishing” Your Resume Ever Worth the Risk?

The short answer to this is a resounding “no.”

Getting caught for lying on a resume is extremely common, particularly with the internet being what it is today.

The exception to this is essentially if what you’re lying about is something small.

People lie every day about small things on their resume or in job interviews, particularly in regard to questions like:

  • “How long do you plan to be in town?”
  • “Do you take direction well?”
  • “How familiar are you with [insert basic technology or job skill here]?”

“How many hours on average do you spend bidding on tiny chairs on eBay?”

The trick is that you have to understand what a resume does — on a basic level, it tells a potential employer what sort of abilities you have and what sort of responsibilities you’re capable of taking on.

If they hire you and you’re unable to fulfill those responsibilities, that’s going to get your new employers wondering just how accurate your resume was in the first place.

Wrapping Up: How to Lie on Your Resume and Get Away With It

With all that in mind, here’s one simple trick to getting away with lying on your resume:

Only lie about things that you can later demonstrate through work experience.


That means that if you want to lie about knowing HTML, that’s totally fine — just be aware that you might end up having to learn HTML in one night, or else risk your newfound job.

As long as you’re okay with that and able to do it, you’ll always be good.

Just don’t lie about your education experience — unless you’re planning on getting whatever degree you claimed to have during your spare time.

Anyway, best of luck! Here are some other links to help you on your way:

3 Tips for Tooting Your Own Horn Without Being Annoying
3 Interview Tips on How to Talk About Fast Paced Work Environments
3 Tips to Stop Selling Yourself Short at Work

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