The resume lie most likely to cost you the job

Most people lie at least a little bit on their resumes.  And, honestly, it’s not always a bad idea. Some lies during the job search are actually good, such as the lie of omission, or the lie that you left your previous job to seek bigger challenges and more opportunities, rather than because you hated your idiot boss.

But there are resume lies you should never tell, because they can cost you opportunities and permanently damage your reputation with an organization – and maybe even in your industry if the sector is a small one. And some are worse than others.

Some lies are worse than others

According to a recent survey, 97% of people said that discovering a resume lie would cause them to either reconsider or immediately dismiss a job candidate. And some lies were considered to be worse than others.

TopResume, a resume-writing service, asked 629 professionals — of which nearly half were human resources professionals, recruiters, or hiring managers — to rank the seriousness of 14 categories of lies. Lying about one’s academic degree was deemed the most egregious offence, with 89% ranking it as serious. This was followed in second place by lying about a criminal record. Lying about certifications and licenses came in third.

We find it interesting that lying about a degree ranks worse than lying about a criminal conviction. But it’s only by 1%.

Here are the five most serious lies ranked from worst to less bad:

  • academic degree (89%)
  • criminal record (88%)
  • certifications and licenses (85%)
  • work experience (84%)
  • technical skills and proficiencies (75%)

“While some job seekers may not think including an exaggeration, or even an outright lie, on their resume is a big deal, our recent survey reveals it can cost them the job – it’s just not worth it,” said Amanda Augustine, certified professional career coach and a certified professional resume writer, according to a media release. “Instead of lying about employment gaps or other possible red flags, you can strategically leverage the interview as an opportunity to explain certain details of your resume. Lying during the job search is typically a deal-breaker for most employers, so do it at your own risk.”

Other highlights of the survey results include the findings that 78% of respondents have spotted a candidate lying on a resume, and 48% said lying would cost a candidate the job.

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