Should I lie on my resume?

You found the perfect job. You look at the position description and requirements. You KNOW you can do the job, but you don’t look strong on paper. At this point you might ask yourself: Should I lie on my resume?

Unless you want to go to jail, don’t lie on your resume.

But, everybody lies on their resume

Well, nearly everybody. A CareerBuilder survey revealed that 75% of HR managers have caught applicants lying on their resume. It’s not surprising what people choose to lie about, given how competitive the job market is. People most often make stuff up about:

  • skills
  • responsibilities
  • employment dates
  • job title
  • education

As tempting as it is to embellish the facts to try and stand out, you really, REALLY should avoid it.

A lady wearing gloves, cleaning up a spilled glass of wine calling you a liar because you told a lie on your resume

Why are you lying on your resume?

If you can figure out why you think you need to lie, you can figure out how to avoid it.

Skills

Do you lack skills required for the job, or do you just not know how to talk about the skills you do have? Maybe you have a bunch of skills you don’t realise.

Skills Match can help you out there. Just type in the types of jobs you’ve done, and you’ll get a list of skills that people usually gain doing that type of job.

If you really do lack skills there is not a lot you can do about it, at least in the short term. Make a plan to build those skills so you’ll be more competitive next time.

Responsibilities

What’s better than managing two people? Managing 20 people! It certainly sounds more impressive. But in reality, you’re using the same set of skills, just scaled up or down. And, as they say, it’s quality not quantity that matters (except when it comes to bank balances).

So instead of stretching the truth about your level of responsibility to make yourself sound better, think about how you can communicate your actual responsibilities better.

Instead of putting lies on your resume you should make it clear what you achieved. Maybe you did only manage two staff, but what did you do with those two staff? Did you smash some sales records? Did you get your 60 day debtors down? Did you finish a job ahead of time or below budget? Using quantifiable examples will show what you did with your responsibility, not just that you had it.

Employment dates

Got a gap in your resume? You’re not alone. Life happens and sometimes you don’t work for a while. It could be because you went travelling, or took time off to study or have kids. Or maybe you just couldn’t find a job.

If you’re anxious about it, give a brief explanation about why you have a gap in your work history in your cover letter. No need to lie on your resume!

Ross from Friends telling Rachel they were on a break. You don't need to lie on your resume if you were on a work break.

Job title

Experts say don’t make up job titles. I am not an expert, so take my opinion with a grain of salt, and with a very, very big exception*.

I don’t actually think it is bad to tweak your job title on your resume – emphasis on TWEAK. Don’t just make up a job title. If you were a receptionist, don’t say you were the CEO.

However, sometimes your official job title does not reflect the work you did, or the level of responsibility you had. You might have officially been the receptionist, but actually you did the work of an administration assistant**, or an accounts clerk.

*The big exception is that you absolutely must ask the person who will give you a reference if they are comfortable with you changing your job title. After all, they’ll be confirming the work you did if your potential new employer calls.

**If you are actually doing work that does not reflect your job title, you should talk to your boss about it and ask to change it. That way you don’t have to lie on your resume!

Qualifications

Sometimes we start a qualification and we don’t finish it.

I have done it.

Twice. (Hello HELP debt).

If you have also done this, you have two options.

  1. Leave it off your resume.
  2. Put it on your resume, but make it clear it is incomplete.

Oh, or the third bonus option is to go back and finish the qualification!

Most of these big-wigs got busted and lost their jobs because they’d lied about their education or qualifications. It could take 30 years to catch up with you, but it probably will eventually, so just don’t lie on your resume!

Images: iStock, giphy

2 comments

  1. If your over 60 and been retrenched from a previous I.T. and looking for a job for over 4 years then its open season, Ageism is alive and well so do what ever it takes to get your foot in the door !!!!!

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