Lying On A Resume: Why You Should Never Do It Even If You Got The Job

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Lying On A Resume: Why You Should...
Sep 8, 2022 8 min read

Quick Answer:
Lying on your resume leads to unwanted consequences such as losing the job. During the hiring process, lies are likely to be detected during background checks, employment and education history, and multiple interviews. Additionally, lying can lead to losing the professional license, blacklisting, decreasing chances of finding a new job, and even criminal responsibility. Honesty and integrity are essential for a successful and long career.

Lying, generally speaking, is a bad idea. This isn’t breaking news.

Dishonesty never ends well, and can quickly spiral out of control.

But telling a little white lie on your resume to help get you the job won’t do that much harm, right?


You should never lie on your resume! Even a small lie can have big consequences, both before and after a potential job offer.

Read below to explore the potential consequences of lying on a resume and why honesty is the best policy.

If you’re stuck on writing your resume and need some inspiration, browse our collection of resume examples based on your industry and role.

What can happen if you lie on your resume?

Hopefully, you have already decided that you are not going to lie on your resume.

Just in case you need some reassurance, let’s explore everything that could go wrong as a result of lying on your resume.

The most obvious consequence is, of course, losing the job.

Depending on the lie and the thoroughness of the hiring process, it is likely to be detected before an offer is even extended. Especially if it involves your previous positions and employers.

During the hiring process, companies may run a background check, call previous employers, or check university records. If you lied about where you went to school or what job you had previously, you can kiss that job offer goodbye.

This includes the name of the school, the name of the company, the name of the degree, job title, date range, and anything else that can quickly be disproven by a phone call to your employer.

There are some conflicting opinions on changing your job title to more accurately reflect your position.

For example, some companies will use language that reflects their fun and quirky branding more than it does the actual job responsibilities. Coding Genius might be more accurately described as Developer. In this case, candidates may choose the latter.

Still, some recruiters may consider this change on your resume to be a lie. Better to err on the side of caution and stick to the facts.

Previous employment and education are some of the easiest things to fact-check. If you lie about something fundamental to your background, any potential employer will lose interest and you might develop a bad reputation before your career even starts.

Getting caught in a lie during the interview

Not all lies will be caught on the initial resume scan. You may make it as far as the interview.

Getting caught in a lie during an interview is arguably more consequential and way more humiliating.

Hiring managers may ask questions during an interview to validate claims you made on your resume like certain skills, achievements, and experience.

Depending on your role and industry, you may be required to take an assessment test as part of the interview process.

This is especially common for roles that require technical skills. Recruiters know that candidates can easily lie about their proficiency in coding languages or editing skills. The fastest way to weed out liars is by putting their skills to the test.

Think about how embarrassing it would be to get all the way to the interview and then have to admit your lie when an assessment test is put in front of you. You will obviously not get the job, and potentially any other job in the company’s network.

That’s just one more reason to never lie on your resume!

I lied on my resume and got the job

Maybe you heard about your friend’s cousin’s brother-in-law who lied on a resume once and got the job where everything turned out fine.

Don’t bet your entire career on being the exception. It’s not worth it.

This comes with big risks and even bigger consequences.

Let’s take a look at a few things that could happen if you lie on your resume and still get the job.

You get fired

This is the most obvious and the scariest consequence of lying on your resume.

Remember, just because you made it through the hiring process doesn’t mean you can’t still get caught. Or that you can’t get fired.

You never know when a current colleague might cross paths with a former colleague and your credentials come up in conversation. If you’re up for a promotion, additional background checks might be required that will bring your dishonesty to light.

Don’t assume that just because you’ve been there awhile and do your job well that your position is safe. If your employer suddenly learns that you’ve been unethical, they may decide that they don’t want you representing their company.

You can’t do the job

Maybe you didn’t lie about your education or employment, but you put a few skills on your resume that you don’t actually have.

This will come back to haunt you when you’re expected to actually use the skills you claimed to have. Even if this doesn’t lead to termination, it could lead to humiliation.

Imagine saying you’re fluent in German and then freezing up when a client from Germany is sent to your office. Or claiming expertise in a particular software and then trying to YouTube tutorial your way through an entire project.

Not only will it be embarrassing, but you will also quickly earn a reputation as an employee who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

You ruin your reputation

On the topic of reputation, it could potentially spread far outside your current job.

Maybe you don’t get fired after getting caught in a lie, but now you’ve created a name for yourself as the person who lied and got the job.

Depending on how much networking is involved in your industry, word can spread quickly between organizations. If and when you eventually start seeking employment elsewhere, you might find you’ve been blacklisted by a number of places.

Lying to get the job just isn’t worth it.

Is it illegal to lie on a resume?

Yes, in certain circumstances lying on a resume can lead to criminal responsibility.

In what circumstances, you wonder.

For example, lying about military service can be prosecuted under the Stolen Valor Act. Moreover, if you are applying for federal or government work, lying to the federal or state government agencies can be considered a crime.

Last but not least, you can be charged with a criminal fraud offense. Although many lies may not seem prosecutable if your lie led to substantial damage to a person or business then you can find yourself in big trouble.

Are there any acceptable lies?

No. You should never blatantly lie on a resume.

However, there is some grey area as to what is considered a “lie” when it comes to resume writing.

Can I lie about being laid off?

First of all, let’s clarify the difference between getting fired and being laid off.

You can be fired by the employer for various reasons like inability to perform, misconduct, etc.

On the other hand, a layoff is the result of the downsizing of a company due to financial trouble or company restructuring.

So, being laid off is not something you should be ashamed of since the reason is not related to your work performance.

Again we do not recommend lying about the way you separated from your previous employer.

Instead, be honest in the interview, use a positive tone, and explain the situation. The recruiter will appreciate your honesty!

Can I lie about volunteering?

In theory yes, but why do it?

Volunteering is a noble act in which you serve and help others without expecting anything in return.

By lying about it, you can end in a humiliating situation.

If you need volunteer work to list on a resume application, there are endless options you could do, and it won’t take that long.

Can I omit employment history?

Yes! You can omit parts of your employment history and there is nothing dishonest about doing so.

In fact, it is encouraged when writing a targeted resume.

All of the information included on your resume should be relevant to your target job. If you have work experience that is irrelevant to the job you’re applying for, it is okay to leave it out.

How many people lie on their resumes?

According to a study from the reference checking company Checkster, 78% of candidates in the study who applied for or received a job offer admit they would consider misrepresenting themselves or lying.

That’s massive!

Below, you can see the most common lies told during the hiring process and the percentage of candidates who have or would consider telling them:

  • Saying they achieved goals they didn’t: 33%
  • Earning a degree from a prestigious university: 39%
  • Holding a director title when the actual role was a manager or another equivalent: 41%
  • Working at a company longer than they did in order to omit another employer: 50%
  • Having a mastery of skills they barely use: 60%

Final thoughts on lying on your resume

It is never okay to lie on a resume. Not only could it have severe consequences, but it is simply dishonest and unethical.

False information on a resume is likely to be uncovered during the background check. Claiming to be skilled in something you’re not could lead to the embarrassment of failing an assessment test.

If you lie on your resume and get the job, there can still be consequences. Depending on the severity of the lie, it could lead to termination or ruin your reputation. You also may not be able to do the job you were given.

It may be tempting, but never lie on your resume! Use our resume builder to create a strong and truthful resume so that you can be confident in accepting your next job offer.

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Kal Dimitrov
Kal is a resume expert @ Enhancv. He frequently publishes blog posts around resume writing, cover letters & job applications. Kal also runs a Career Accelerator Bootcamp for young graduates.
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