Over 50% of people lie on their resume.
What initially seems as a shocking statistic starts to make sense when you consider the economic climate and endless jockeying for better opportunities—it leads some people to blur the truth on their CV.
However, you can’t make the justification that you need to lie, or bend the truth on your resume just because you believe that employers also stretch the job description, and in this competitive workforce, you need to take an edge anyway you can. Believe it or not, this is the most common rationalization on why people will lie on a resume.
And as quoted in the NY Times, "all it takes is one interviewer who happens to speak the language to call your bluff, and that one fudge undermines the credibility of everything else you say about yourself."
Why it’s Wise to Never Stretch the Truth
Here’s the million dollar ethical question: How much can you “dress up” your resume to make yourself as strong a candidate as possible—without crossing the ethical line of deception?
Top 5 Lies Found on a Resume
- Inflating the range of functions you had direct responsibility for. It can be tempting to just toss an extra responsibility in, or break out the thesaurus for another adjective. Resist the urge, because a quick phone call to a former employer can tumble your house of cards.
- Claiming a team’s contributions as your own. Be sure to give credit where credit is due – because this can easily be researched and you’ll be subsequently called out.
- Creating a more impressive job title. In this day and age, it seems that impressive titles can be thrown around that don’t necessarily reflect ones experience or competency. Stay true to the title that you operated under while you were employed. Just because it was 10 years ago doesn’t give you reason to alter your title thinking nobody will find out – don’t take the bait.
- Claiming a degree that was not earned. One of the biggest ways to have a career implode on you. This type of fraud has toppled CEO’s from their positions, all because they were a few credits shy of graduating, but still claimed they wore the gown.
- Fudging the working dates. Working from October 2014 – March 2015 does not qualify as one year. Enough said.
“Most applicants lie because they are insecure about their experiences and want to seem more qualified.” - Robert S. Feldman, professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.
How to Avoid Falling Victim to These Traps
Where do you draw the line so you’re accurately giving the story behind the resume—but one that also sells copies?
Ask a Former Boss
This is clearly not the best route to take—but it’s one that will cut through any sugar-coating and let you know what they think of your titles and descriptions.
Does It Hold up Against the Front-Page Test
Harvard Business Review asks: “Would you think the same way if your accomplishment in question were reported on the front page of the Wall Street Journal? Or your prior employer’s internal newsletter?” They do have a good point—does it stand the gauntlet of former colleagues or journalists to pick it apart?
Stay true and do it right the first time by crafting a powerful opening statement, focus on your story and master the art of art of the résumé.