If you ever thought about stretching the truth on your resume, you may want to rethink the strategy. The statistics on the amount of lying in resumes are stunning: one study claims that 53% of applicants lie. However, that is not a green light for joining the liars. It simply means that hiring managers and recruiters are well aware of the situation and have re-doubled their efforts to check out the facts on resumes.
The most common lies that appear on resumes involve dates of employment (shaving off or adding months and even years), inflating accomplishments and skills (including job titles), faking credentials (including education and professional licenses), and providing false references.
These lies are easy for companies to check and they immediately disqualify a candidate from consideration. The mantra of most companies is “verify, verify, verify.” They call previous employers, they call references, and they check online to see if the information on the resume matches with the information that appears in social media, professional sites, and other locations.
Pre-employment screening companies specialize in verifying information about job candidates. Criminal background, driving record, and credit history checks are easier than ever to perform. Truly, your life is out there on the internet.
However, even if a lying candidate is eventually offered a job, inflated accomplishments and fake credentials have a habit of showing up in job performance, ensuring a quick end to the new hire’s career. Even the best scam artist finds it difficult to keep up a false identity hour after hour, day after day, for an entire lifetime. Someone eventually catches on.
There are many cases of people lying about their credentials causing them to not only lose their jobs, but also lose their careers. For example, a few years ago, the Director of Admissions from my alma mater, MIT, lost her job and career. When she applied to MIT for a job a couple of decades before she became the Director of Admissions, she had lied about graduating with a Bachelor’s degree for a job that did not require the degree. When she became a force for change in admission policies for colleges and universities, someone investigated her background. When they found out she lied about her degree and outed her, she lost her job and her ability to ever serve in that capacity. She was an excellent Director of Admissions, with a strong reputation for doing a fantastic job. However, since she had lied decades before, she lost her standing in the community.
In addition, in many states and on federal government applications, lying about a degree is a misdemeanor or can even be a felony.