Survey: The most common lies in Canadian resumes (and how people get caught)

New research shows that more people are lying on their resumes in order 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 candidates fudging their credentials. According to their surveys, 40 per cent of senior managers suspect candidates often stretch the truth on resumes, and 35 per cent said their company has removed an applicant from consideration for a position after discovering he or she lied.

The most common resume lies

Workers who know someone who misrepresented or exaggerated information on his or her resume were also asked, “What type of information did they misrepresent or exaggerate on their resume?”

    • Job experience – 66 percent
    • Job duties – 57 per cent
    • Education – 41 per cent
    Employment dates – 24 per cent

Applicants often try to lie about their employment dates in order to mask gaps on their resume. However, even employers who resist giving references to former employees will confirm the start and end date of your tenure. So, while this is one of the most common resume lies, it is also amongst the easiest to get caught for. (Here is how to actually handle gaps in your resume.)

Another of the most common resume deceptions in 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 actually perform the duties of the job. 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, 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. Don’t do it. It only takes a very basic background check to confirm your education. Lying about it will kill your chances of getting hired. Even if you don’t actually 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, but employers know that these are commonly exaggerated by potential candidates, 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.

There are missing or questionable dates on your resume. Employers will wonder what you were doing in between jobs if there are large 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 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. Employers routinely confirm the details from resumes such as employment history and educational credentials. They’ll also call your previous employers, your references, and also back-door references. These are people in their own 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’re the job, but also blocking you from consideration for any future opportunities.

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 fabrications could earn you.

When someone recommends you for a job, telling the hiring manager that you would be a great fit for the role, you stand a much greater chance of being interviewed and seriously considered for the position. This is true regardless if on paper you have the required degree or number of years of experience.

Work hard, be nice, and be honest. It pays off.

The worst question you can ask in a job interview

And the best places to live and work in Canada are…