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What Job Seekers Lie About

lying on your resume

All job seekers want to present themselves in the best light. But if you are tempted to stretch the truth, think again.

While few people would face the kind of public scrutiny that NBC anchor Brian Williams has for lying about something that happened on the job, embellishing your work history can be highly damaging to your career.

About 58% of hiring managers say they’ve caught a lie on a resume, with a third saying they’ve seen an increase in resume embellishments since the recession, according to a survey conducted by Harris Poll for CareerBuilder.

What are job candidates lying about? The top 5 areas, according to the survey:

  • Embellished skill set – 57 percent
  • Embellished responsibilities – 55 percent
  • Dates of employment – 42 percent
  • Job title – 34 percent
  • Academic degree – 33 percent

Candidates are not just embellishing on their resumes, but on social media, according to the 2015 Job Seeker Nation report from Jobvite. In the survey of about 2,000 employees, 31 percent who used Twitter said they inflated their skills, and the more highly educated they were the more likely they were to do so. About 20 percent of people with advanced degrees admitted to embellishing and 9 percent of those with high school degrees.

On Facebook, 27 percent said they fabricated references–with twice as many men than women.

While it might have been easier for some of those lies to slip through the cracks in the past, that is no longer the case. Companies have more ways than ever to uncover lies that don’t even require them picking up the phone and calling former employers.

If you do lie or embellish (I’m not sure of the distinction between those) on your resume, you may miss out on the offer you were trying to get. About half of employers in the survey said they would automatically dismiss a candidate who lied.

Of course, the other half said they would take other factors into account, such as what the lie was about and whether they liked the candidate.

Perhaps. But taking the high road–and having confidence in what you do bring to the table–is always a better idea.

About the Author

Susan Price has been writing about careers, entrepreneurs and personal finance for more than a decade. She’s been an editor at BusinessWeek, Money, and, among others.