Have you ever lied on your resume or embellished the truth when speaking with a recruiter or hiring manager? It happens fairly often and it puzzles me because background checks and references are quite easy to conduct. In addition, a simple Google search can quickly uncover false information.
Recently I caught a candidate in the midst of a lie just by asking the same question twice. The first time I spoke with him, he said he made $80,000 in 2013 and wanted to better himself by changing jobs. When I called back a week later and asked that same question again to make sure that the position I was about to present was in his “must have” range, he bumped his 2013 earnings up to six figures. All of the sudden, he earned over $100,000 in 2013. I asked to see his W2 for verification purposes but he declined. He also hung up on me which was for the best since any confidence and trust I placed in him was now gone.
What other things do candidates often embellish or just plain lie about? Here are 5 that my team and I encounter quite often:
Enhancing skill sets & accomplishments. If you didn’t do it, or didn’t achieve it, don’t list it. However, there’s nothing wrong with enhancing your resume with quantifiable accomplishments and improving how you display them.
Unexplained gaps of employment. Rather than make up a fictional job to cover an employment gap, try acknowledging the gap in your cover letter. If you were taking time off to raise children or to take care of a sick parent, no employer will fault you especially if you can show that you’ve kept up with the industry.
Fabricated education, degrees and certifications. This is very risky. This lie is one that could not only get you fired, but might also incite legal action on the part of your employer. It’s simply not worth the risk.
Omitting past employment. Depending on the circumstances or why you left a previous job, you might be tempted to leave it off your application or resume. Carefully weigh your decision, because a background check or employment verification could reveal your omission, making it look as if you are hiding part of your work history.
Falsifying reasons for leaving prior employment. There’s a tactful way of explaining being fired or quitting abruptly, and it doesn’t have to involve lying. Just figure out the best way to explain it in as positive a light as possible. Not explaining the reason(s) can and will ruin your chances of getting hired.
Here’s where I need to reiterate that honesty is still the best policy. Lying on your resume or directly to a recruiter or hiring manager will come back to haunt you. Once you’ve told lies, they snowball. If you land the job, you’ve got to keep up the charade of each lie for the rest of your career. Who can keep up with all of them?
Have you ever embellished your resume or know somebody who did and got caught? Share your resume stories with us below.