What do the following things have in common?
1. Academic degree
2. Criminal record
3. Certifications and licenses
4. Work experience
5. Technical skills and proficiencies
Turns out, if you lie about any of these five things on your resume, it could cost you the job offer, according to a new survey from TopResume. That's because most of these lies have a direct impact on a candidate's employability, said Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume.
"If you lie about a certification, degree, license, role or skill, chances are you're not qualified for the position as you've led employers to believe," said Augustine. "Employers hate having their time wasted; no one wants to take the time to interview a candidate in person only to learn a few minutes into the process that the candidate does not have the required skills to perform the job after all."
When resume lies are likely to be uncovered
While lies on a resume are not so easy to tell just by reading the document, the interview process is when those lies become apparent, because the candidate won't be able to speak in detail on the things they've lied about.
"In addition, background checks and reference checks often expose a resume's lies," said Augustine. "Lying about your education is pointless, because it's simple for an employer to call the institution directly for verification or to use a service such as the National Student Clearinghouse to confirm details of your educational background."
Augustine added, "The same logic applies to lying about working for a certain employer or taking creative license with your employment's end dates. A quick call to the organization – or background-check company like HireRight or GoodHire – will bring your lies to light."
Resume writing tips
There are ways to design your resume so it highlights your skills. "Most employers expect slight embellishment when they read a candidate's resume," said Augustine. "It's human nature to try and paint your candidacy in the best possible light, and that can be taken too far."
To avoid turning embellishments into straight lies, Augustine recommends the following when creating your resume:
Create a brag book.
When you're ready to update your resume, your brag book will become one of your strongest assets. This simple tool is a document where you actively chronicle your work experience and professional successes in detail. In addition to recording all your personal wins, it allows you to keep track of dates and other important numbers you might not remember or be able to access when you need to update your resume. When the information is recorded in real time, it reduces the likelihood of making innocent mistakes on your resume.
Avoid the temptation.
Once you have one lie on your resume, adding others doesn't seem like a big deal. However, your dishonesty will catch up with you, and you'll either be asked to explain the lies or be looked over completely, so it's better to not even tempt yourself with one lie.
Work with what you have.
A resume is essentially a marketing document – its purpose is to position you in the most favorable way for your target role by highlighting your best selling points. She suggested testing small changes to see what will work if the current format no longer does.
Ask for help.
There's no shame in admitting that you don't have it all together when writing a resume. Resources like TopResume offer professional, objective and free reviews of your resume.
So what's the big deal with resume lies?
As an employee candidate, you are risking your reputation by knowingly having lies on your resume.
"Some job markets are small. If the lie you told was egregious, you may find it has spread beyond the office walls of this prospective employer," said Augustine. "Also, if you are working with a third-party recruiting agency, there's a good chance they may cut ties with you. Lying about something that's easy to catch also speaks to your judgment – or lack thereof – which can be a deal-breaker for most employers."