5 Common Lies to Avoid on Your Resume

Business.com / HR Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

It's tempting to exaggerate the truth on your resume, but lies are easy to expose and the truth is easy to verify.

Any lie, big or small, brings trouble when it’s found out. When you’re putting a resume together, it may be tempting to say you made a little more than you did, or that your title was a little more important than it was. These may seem like small lies, but they can be easily found out by a potential employer.

Your resume is the way you market yourself and showcase your capabilities and credentials in the most crisp and relevant way possible. If your resume contains false information, your reputation will be tarnished.

Read: Resume Templates for Beginners

Employers usually run background checks on prospective employees that include fact-checking basic resume information. The most common areas in which employers catch prospects in a lie are academic credentials, employment dates, compensation, job titles, and references.

Much of this information is very easy to find online. In other words, your truth is easy to verify, and your lies are easy to expose. Experts say long-term unemployment can be a tempting factor in doctoring a resume. Motivated by jealousy or desperation, applicants convince themselves to stretch the truth to make themselves look more appealing.

Don’t give in to this temptation. You’ll only sabotage your chances at a good job and a solid reputation with an employer who respects your real skills and achievements.

Fig. Fraudulent Resume Practices. According to the Accu-Screen, Inc., ADP and The Society of Human Resource Manager, the 5 prominent aspects which persistently feature in falsified resumes are depicted.

Lie #1 Exaggerating job titles

Because job titles are not standardized these days, elevating a job title may seem like an easy way to make previous positions sound more important. However, job titles can be checked with just a call to your previous employer. Don’t risk your reputation for this seemingly small, but easily checked, exaggeration of the truth.

Read: A Checklist for Background Checks

Lie #2 Doctoring employment dates

Being out of work for some time makes it tempting to fabricate employment dates to avoid showing gaps in employment history. This is a lie that is easily found out, and also one that has serious consequences for hiring. Steven D. Levitt, coauthor of Freakonomics and a renowned economics professor, cites this particular lie as a “little cheat” and a common one: "My hunch is that the reputed 50 percent of resume cheaters are mostly making little cheats here and there, for instance, to cover up times when they were out of the labor force for six months.” Don’t be a cheater, even on a small scale.

Lie #3 Fabricating your academic credentials

The academic credentials in your resume are often the first ones to be scrutinized by your potential employer. Listing a degree you almost have, or prerequisites you intend to get, will only lead to actual, factual trouble. Any employer who attempts to verify your academic standing will easily find the truth, and if you are a few credits down from the general requirements of that degree you’re supposed to have, or a few prerequisites short for the job, your potential employer will become a lost prospect as soon as the fact check of your resume is complete.

Lie #4 Forging references

Obviously, forged references are among the easiest lies to expose. Best practices for gathering references include: mention only the names of people who are directly connected to you, validate provided contact information, and get an acknowledgement from the person in the reference so they know to expect contact from your prospective employer. Try to provide information that can easily be validated to aid your candidature.

Read: 3 Tips for Hiring Managers - What to Really Look for in a Resume

Lie #5 Inflating compensation

Seeking a higher salary can make it tempting to lie about the compensation you received from your last employer. However, if this information is fact checked, inflating your last salary could take you out of the running for a prospective job. It certainly will hurt your credibility and ability to negotiate for higher pay. A more proper approach is to mention an average or a range of pay that is commensurate with the work expected.

The bottom line: Applying for jobs can be a nerve-wracking business. You may be tempted to stretch the truth of your skills and accomplishments, but at least in these 5 key areas, what you say is easily verified or debunked with a few calls or clicks of a mouse.

Don’t let the stress get to you, and don’t let the truth get away from you in your resume. The facts will come out one way or another; let them be on your side.

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