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Admit it, we have all either thought of or actually lied on our resumes. By lying I mean either straight-up making up things or stretching the truth a little too far. Most people think a little lie here and there won’t make a difference.
We all know how Mike faked his way into a law firm in Suits Season 1 Episode 1! Even he got caught in the end.
A recent study by ResumeLab throws up some interesting findings. The study shows that 36% of respondents confessed to straight-up lying on their resumes while an additional 20% admitted to twisting the truth. Overall 56% of the people surveyed modified their resumes.
What’s even more dramatic is that 93% of the people surveyed said they knew someone who had altered their resume falsely. Yes, you must know one or two candidates like that as well!
Let’s dive into what lying on a resume means and its impacts.
Why Do People Lie On Resumes?
There are several reasons for this-
- The main one is that competition has increased. With so many people applying for the same job, candidates try to get any kind of advantage they can to stand out. This has resulted in people overstating their skills and achievements on resumes.
- With many recruiters using technology to filter resumes, applicants try to fit in as many keywords from the job description as they can in the hope that the system will accept their resume on seeing these keywords. This has led to blatant lying on resumes.
- People lie when they have been unemployed for a long time and are desperate for a job. 37% of people admitted to this.
- People also lie when they apply to positions they are not qualified for.
- Perhaps the weirdest reason is that people think they won’t get caught. 18% of the respondents gave this answer.
Ways Applicants Lie and Its Impact
There are numerous ways candidates alter their resumes to appear as a better fit for the job they seek. There is a fine line in selling yourself well to the interviewer and blatantly lying.
Some of the most common lies by candidates on resumes are-
- Adding skills they know nothing about. Applicants claim knowledge of softwares such as MS Excel or programming languages like Python even though they know nothing about them.
- Fabricating facts about work experience. People lie about their contribution to projects and claim credit for it. Some even lie about the duration they worked at a place to omit another employer they worked at.
- To trick the bot, people even use white text in the blank areas of the resume to add in random keywords in the hope that it will be picked up by the system. This is unacceptable to say the least.
With candidates lying in so many different ways, it can be hard for employers to detect the lies sometimes. In fact, according to the study, only 31% of such people are caught with only 21% of resume liars losing out on a job.
This is highlighted by Malvika Khajuria, AVP Marketing at Sunstone She says “To be honest, I think it's a problem if someone is not good at their job. If they are doing well, work is getting done, managers may initially feel cheated but wont hold on to it in my opinion.”
However, it depends on who the person in charge is. Some managers might take great offence if they find out that the person they hired lied on their resume.
A senior HR at Sunstone says “If someone is caught lying on their resume that is a total no-no for me. That’s the end of their application or job and I mark them as 'Do Not Hire' for the future as well.”
Is it Illegal to Lie on a Resume?
Lying on a resume isn't technically illegal. A resume isn't a legal document, so normally you won't get prosecuted for lying on it. However, if you generate fake documents that don't reflect your true educational/work history, this act can get you in trouble.
Note- It’s important to remember that every country or state has different laws, so just don't lie on your resume.
How Employers Catch Applicants Out
Lying on your resume is a very risky game with severe consequences. And catching out potential frauds is not that difficult if the employer conducts their due diligence.
Sometimes employers check social media profiles of the candidate and discover discrepancies. Other times background checks are done which find out the truth. Some candidates even get found out during the interview, which can be very embarrassing. If you claim proficiency in something like MS Excel and fail to answer questions on it in the interview, your candidature is rejected at that point only.
Clearly resume cheating is very prevalent in the industry today. Candidates need to understand that lying in most cases won’t get them anywhere and also opens them up to potential lawsuits by the employer for fraud.
Employers also need to filter out liars to discourage others from following the same route. Background checks should be a compulsory thing at any workplace to ensure only deserving candidates get the job.
The start of a professional relationship as with any other relationship begins with trust and violating that right at the beginning is bound to make it fail.
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