New research shows that more people are lying on their resumes to impress employers, and it’s hurting – not helping – their careers.
The placement experts over at OfficeTeam released a report last week on trends in Canadian candidates fudging their credentials. According to their surveys, 40 percent of senior managers suspect candidates often stretch the truth on resumes, and 35 percent said their company had removed an applicant from consideration for a position after discovering they lied.
The most common lies in Canadian resumes
Those who knew someone who misrepresented or exaggerated information on their resume were also asked, “What type of information did they misrepresent or exaggerate on their resume?” And these were found to be the most common lies in Canadian resumes:
- Job experience – 66 percent
- Job duties – 57 percent
- Education – 41 percent
- Employment dates – 24 percent
Applicants often lie about their employment dates to mask gaps on their resumes. However, even employers who resist giving references to former employees will confirm your tenure’s start and end date. So, while this is one of the most common resume lies, it is also among the easiest to get caught for. (Here is how to handle gaps in your resume.)
Another of the most common resume deceptions is the level of education. Employers routinely ask for university degrees for most jobs now – even for roles where there is no evidence of a degree being necessary to perform the job’s duties. This is because it has become an easy screening tool. Since it is so easy for candidates to apply for jobs online, companies receive many applications for each position they post. Adding advanced credentials to the requirements helps narrow down the field of applicants.
This can make it tempting to fudge your credentials. Please don’t do it. It only takes a basic background check to confirm your education, and lying about it will kill your chances of getting hired. Even if you don’t need the degree to do the job, the fact that you were dishonest in the hiring process tarnishes your integrity in the eyes of the employer.
Your specific work experience and job duties aren’t as easy to confirm in an initial background check. Still, employers know that potential candidates commonly exaggerate these, so they have come up with other ways to verify them.
How employers catch resume lies
Employers notice when you’re being vague about your past work experience. Using ambiguous phrases like “familiar with” or “involved in” can be red flags that you are trying to cover up a lack of direct experience.
Employers will also see if there are missing or questionable dates on your resume. Employers will wonder what you were doing in between jobs if there are significant gaps between periods of employment. They will also look you up online and scan social media profiles. Be sure that the information you’ve made public closely matches the details you’ve listed in your resume.
You can also display negative cues during the interview. A lack of eye contact or constant fidgeting may suggest dishonesty. Employers will ask specific questions about your ability to use the skills necessary for the job. Make sure you are ready to speak confidently about your core competencies.
Background and reference checks tell the truth. Employers routinely confirm the details from resumes, such as employment history and educational credentials. They’ll also call your previous employers, your references, and back-door references. These are people in their network who may have worked with you in the past and can speak to your on-the-job behaviour and performance.
Being caught lying on your resume can tarnish your reputation with that employer, not only costing you the job but also blocking you from consideration for any future opportunities with that company.
That is why your professional reputation is your greatest career asset. When you have built up a network of people who appreciate your work ethic and abilities, you will have access to many more opportunities than any amount of resume fabrication could earn you.
When someone recommends you for a job, telling the hiring manager that you would be an excellent fit for the role, you stand a much greater chance of being interviewed and seriously considered. Regardless of what’s on paper, you have the required degree or years of experience.
Work hard, be nice, and be honest. It pays off.