Lying on a Resume & Job Application: Can You? [99% Do!]

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You’ve been with the company for several years.

You’re the top performer, on track for another promotion, and everyone loves you.

You’ll get fired tomorrow.

What the heck?!?

That’s correct, you’ve been fired. You were fired because they discovered some lie or falsehood about you.

You had falsified your resume.

If this cautionary tale isn’t enough to make you reconsider, continue reading to learn more about lying on resumes, cover letters, job applications, and job interviews.

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You WILL Get Caught

That 99 percent figure in the title?

We deceived you. It was made up by us. However—

According to the most recent CareerBuilder study, 75% of hiring managers discovered a falsehood on a CV (the remaining 25% evidently don’t read resumes—but that’s our perspective).

Okay, there is a slim chance that you will get away with lying on a job application or résumé.

Most of us, it’s safe to say, embellish the facts we give to prospective employers.

Perhaps your resume lies were insignificant, or the firm did not bother to investigate your narrative, or you just did not stay at the company long enough for the truth to emerge.

But these are your “best-case possibilities,” and the odds are stacked against you.

Here are some of the most typical ways you could be apprehended:

Background investigation
Story-wise, your cover letter, CV, and/or job application do not match.
They simply call your previous employer.
You told your employer the truth.
You told your coworkers the truth.
The abilities you listed in your resume are finally tested.
Your university disputes that you graduated or pursued that major/minor.
Dates, fictitious work titles, and so on do not add up or make sense.
A quick google search exposes the truth.

These are the most common methods of being discovered, but they are by no means exhaustive.

Don’t make up anything on your resume!

Are There Any Acceptable Lies?

“In my experience, there are no situations in which lying in an interview or on a resume is permissible.”

Among the hundreds of job gurus I contacted, recurring expressions included categorical “never,” “never,” and “non-negotiable.”

If you know your assertion is untrue, leave it off your CV, cover letter, job application, or interview!

Pro Tip: Don’t make up anything in your cover letter!

Here’s What the Experts Have to Say About Lying

I sought out true experts, such as HR managers, consultants, and recruiters, to see what they had to say about lying throughout the hiring process.

Here’s what they have to say about it.

“There are no occasions where lying would be justifiable,” says Kathleen Steffey, the founder and chief talent officer of Naviga Recruiting. If you lie on a CV or application, there are numerous straightforward ways for the company to find out, particularly through references and formal background checks. However, I believe that in some cases, such as graduation year, information should not be revealed upfront to avoid discrimination.”

She follows with an excellent analogy: “It’s kind of like dating.” Will you pursue him/her as a potential companion if you catch him/her lying before your first face-to-face dinner? No!”

I asked Burr Consulting’s Matthew Burr what he would do if he discovered that an applicant had lied to him: “It’s over after that, I don’t have the time or tolerance to deal with someone lying to me during an interview or hiring process.” Regardless of level, we are investing in someone for a career. I’ve been engaged in two circumstances (both HR hires) where people lied about their educational levels; in both cases, we didn’t employ. If you do your study, catching someone in a falsehood is simple.”

“Learning that someone has lied can raise major concerns in the minds of the interviewer.” What else would they lie about if they were hired? How trustworthy are these individuals? “If enough of these questions occur, the interviewer may decide to dismiss the candidate from the process entirely,” adds Steve Pritchard, HR Consultant at Ben Sherman.

The only “lenient” expert I discovered was Osayi Lasisi, a former HR director for a huge corporation.

“When I discover that someone has lied on their résumé or in an interview, I consider how minor or significant the untruth is and how it may effect the job function,” she says. The falsehood makes me wonder if they are trustworthy people, but it could also show their desperation and desire for the position. When making a decision, I try to assess the gravity of the problem against the other factors, and then observe them over the probation time.”

Don’t lie during the interview!

Consequences Of Lying On A Job Application

There are just a few punishments for lying during the hiring process, but they are all embarrassing and detrimental to your professional future.

Most of the time, you’ll be fired right away (or not hired to begin with).

However, if you’ve been working for a while before they discover the deception, being dismissed disappoints your boss, sets your friends and coworkers against you, and may have personal consequences.

Is it Illegal to Lie on a Resume?

It is not legally unlawful to lie on a resume, cover letter, or job application. Because these aren’t legal documents, you can’t normally be penalized for lying on them. However, if you alter documents that “back up” claims of educational history, for example, you may be breaking the law.

It’s also vital to remember that each jurisdiction has its own set of rules.

For example, Texas Penal Code 32.52 states, among other things, that “a person commits an offense if the person uses or purports to possess a postsecondary degree that the person knows is fraudulent or has otherwise not been issued to the person.”

Pro Tip: Never lie on a job application!

The ONLY Time You Should Lie on a Resume

Here’s how you get away with lying on your resume:

Pro Tip: Unless you’re a cat, don’t lie on your resume!

The Most Surprising Fact About Interview Lying
You should be aware that the employer cannot retaliate if you lie to answer illegal interview questions.

Illegal interview questions, such as those concerning your religion or weight, violate your civil rights, and you have the ability to lie. That is, technically. However, it is still preferable to bring it up or shift the conversation.

Key Takeaway

I frequently use 1000+ words to convey a simple message, but this one takes the cake.

To summarize:

Don’t lie on your resume.
Cover letters should not be fabricated.
Never lie on a job application.
Don’t tell lies in interviews.

And you won’t have to if you prepare properly!