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Updated Apr 11, 2024

Yes, People Lie on Their Resumes

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Max Freedman, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst

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Although we may not want to admit it, we’ve all lied at some point, whether it was a white lie that got you out of an engagement or a massive falsehood that’s been sticking around for years. But it’s considered common sense not to lie on a resume, right? Well, not according to some studies.

2020 study: 78% of job seekers lie on their resume

In 2020, the reference-check firm Checkster (now part of Harver) surveyed 400 job seekers and 400 hiring managers. According to the findings, 78% of job seekers misrepresented themselves on job applications and resumes – or at least thought about misrepresenting themselves.

The extent to which job seekers lie on their resumes

Among the job seekers Checkster surveyed, 45.7% said the extent of their lying was moderate, while 3.3% said it was extreme. Only 16.1% didn’t lie at all. Another 28.5% said they lied “a lot” on their resumes, but not quite to the “extreme” extent of other respondents. The remaining 6.3% said there were almost no lies on their resumes.

The lies job seekers tell on their resumes

Here are some common resume lies Checkster asked respondents about and the percentage of survey participants who admitted to telling or thinking about telling them.

Resume lies

Percentage of respondents who confessed

Proficiency in in-demand career skills you don’t actually have


Working at a certain company for a falsely increased number of years to exclude another company from your employment history


For recent college graduates, inflating your GPA by at least half a point


Using the title of “director” in place of “manager” or an equivalent term


Listing a degree from a prestigious university when you still need a few more credits to officially obtain the degree


Listing a degree from a more prestigious university than your actual school


Listing a degree from a prestigious university after taking just one online class


Including false achievements


Other common lies included listing a false address or saying they chose to quit a job when they were actually fired. Inflated salaries and descriptions of work in a specific role or on a particular project were also typical.

How hiring managers respond to resume lies

Interestingly, 29.4% of the surveyed hiring managers told Checkster they would still hire someone who misrepresented themselves if there was a good explanation. Another 3.3% would hire the candidate no matter what, with only 34.4% citing lying as an automatic disqualification. 

If no other candidate were available, 13.6% of hiring managers would hire someone who misrepresented themselves. Among HR staff, 14% would hire that person with the hiring manager’s permission.

How certain resume lies affect hiring manager decisions

When candidates lied about their GPAs, 22% of the hiring managers surveyed still hired them. The equivalent figure was 12% for fake job titles. Additionally, 63% would never hire an applicant who falsified references – another reason to ask for professional references before listing them. Finally, 60% said they wouldn’t hire a candidate who faked achievements. 

Did You Know?Did you know
If a business selects a candidate and then discovers resume irregularities, it may rescind the job offer or even fire the employee if they've already been brought aboard.

2019 study: 10% of employees lie on their resumes

An older study by Blind, an anonymous workplace social media platform, is worth exploring. In contrast to the whopping 78% of people who admitted to lying on their resumes in the Checkster survey, this survey found very different results. 

The company asked participants whether they had “embellished or lied on [their] LinkedIn or resume” when searching for a job. Approximately 90% of the respondents said they’d never lied to get a job, while the remaining 10% said they had. However, this study differed from the Checkster survey because it didn’t count “thinking about misrepresenting” as lying.

The lies used on resumes

Some of the more common resume lies noted in the Blind study were about academic degrees, age, technical abilities and criminal records. The survey also found that, in addition to falsifying resume information, some respondents weren’t above lying about their “salaries, references and complete work history.”

Where resume liars get hired

Blind’s survey also asked where respondents were ultimately hired. The organization discovered that 17 major businesses, including Apple and Cisco, were represented among the respondents.

According to the survey, the European software corporation SAP had the most respondents who admitted to lying, at 12.5%. This was followed by Amazon (11.57%), Cisco (10.78%), PayPal (10.58%) and eBay (9.93%). Other major companies with a relatively high rate of falsehoods among respondents were Microsoft (9.84%) and Oracle (9.19%).

Most job applicants are honest

Blind’s study also found comforting data for businesses that prioritize ethics. Along with 9 in 10 respondents saying they’d never lied on a resume, 13 of the 17 companies represented had a truth rating higher than 90% – meaning the vast majority of their employees did not misrepresent themselves on their resumes.

Salesforce had the highest percentage of truthful respondents, with 97.17% denying ever having lied on a resume. Other companies with the most truthful employees based on resume honesty were Tableau (96.30%), Intuit (96.26%), LinkedIn (95.54%), Apple (94.83%), Adobe (93.14%), Facebook (92.68%) and Google (92.57%).

Aside from lying, things you should never do during a job interview include arriving late, being rude to front desk personnel, and exhibiting inappropriate body language.

2023 study: Applicants are still lying

A 2023 ResumeLab report sheds even more light on who exactly is lying. In this survey of 1,900 U.S.-based workers, 7 in 10 admitted to lying on their resumes. Resume untruths were considered frequent for 37% of respondents, while 33% said they’d lied a few times. Additionally, 15% had thought about lying, while another 15% said they’d never even considered it.

Among more highly educated respondents – those with a master’s degree or Ph.D. – 85% had lied frequently or once or twice. In contrast, 71% of those without a college degree had been untruthful. Those with a bachelor’s or associate’s degree were the most truthful group at 63%.

Demographic breakdowns by gender, religion and age did not reveal significant disparities. 

The lies used on resumes

In this survey, top lies included embellished responsibilities and job titles, while other popular fabrications included inflating the number of employees managed and the length of employment. Notably, 8 in 10 respondents admitted lying during job interviews, and 76% revealed they’d lied on cover letters

The consequences of lying on your resume

Though the Checkster study found that some companies would still hire a candidate who lied on their resume, getting caught lying often leads to the unemployment line. This notion is true at all levels of a team. Even prominent executives have lied on their resumes – including a former Yahoo CEO, a former RadioShack CEO and a celebrity chef – and most faced career difficulties.

Applicants who lie on their resumes have more to lose than their desired jobs. Their reputations may take an irreparable hit. If word gets out that you’re dishonest, you won’t be very attractive to other companies and could have trouble getting hired in the future. Some false resume information could even put you in legal jeopardy, especially if you’ve lied when applying for federal or state jobs or careers that require specific licenses. 

Did You Know?Did you know
The best time to look for a job is in January and February, whereas the summer and holiday seasons are considered the worst.

How to avoid lying on your resume

The easiest way to avoid lying on your resume is just not to do it. However, beyond that, making a great resume that’s brief and direct is always a safer bet than misrepresenting yourself. Here are some other best practices to get you hired:

  • Create your own resume design instead of using a template to stand out from the pack. 
  • Qualify all your achievements with metrics.
  • Show off your skills. 
  • Use industry buzzwords (but not cliches) to indicate you know what you’re talking about and get past electronic filters. 
  • Take a chance with unconventional, creative job applications so your resume isn’t overlooked.
  • Sign up for LinkedIn alternatives so more people see your resume.

When you follow these tips for job searching in the digital age, your honest, ethical resume might land on the right desk before you know it. 

Resume lying is common but not advisable

Lying on resumes isn’t universal, but it’s an all-too-common practice that spans demographics. However, job seekers should stick to honest assessments and representations of their skills and experience to find the most suitable positions – and avoid losing their new jobs or even facing legal trouble. 

If you want to stand out as a job candidate, find creative ways to showcase your talents on a high-quality, well-designed resume that shows hiring managers your value. Landing a job can be challenging, but with a little inventiveness, you can put your most truthful foot forward and still look good during the application process.

Elizabeth Crumbly and Andrew Martins contributed to this article.

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Max Freedman, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
Max Freedman has spent nearly a decade providing entrepreneurs and business operators with actionable advice they can use to launch and grow their businesses. Max has direct experience helping run a small business, performs hands-on reviews and has real-world experience with the categories he covers, such as accounting software and digital payroll solutions, as well as leading small business lenders and employee retirement providers. Max has written hundreds of articles for Business News Daily on a range of valuable topics, including small business funding, time and attendance, marketing and human resources.
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