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Little White Resume Lies: Which Ones Are the Worst?

Little White Resume Lies: Which Ones Are the Worst?
Credit: GaudiLab/Shutterstock

Workers are more likely to view resume lies regarding their education more seriously than those about their skills and work background, according to the study from Hloom, a provider of resume templates and samples.

"People find lies about education fairly serious, while fabrications about specific skills are deemed more harmless," the study's authors wrote.

The survey respondents said that lying about which college you attended is the most serious lie that job seekers can make on their résumés. Fibbing about an academic degree, foreign language fluency, college major and grade point average were also ranked among the six most serious résumé lies.

The study found that the most innocent lie employees could tell on a resume was not being truthful about when they graduated college.

Many of the other resume embellishments viewed as somewhat trivial are related to skills. Communication, research, presentation and computer skills were ranked among the 11 least serious résumé lies. [See Related Story: Envy Often Drives Resume Lies]

Here are the complete rankings, based on a 1 to 5 scale, of the seriousness of each resume lie:

  1. College graduated from: 4.50
  2. Employment or work history: 4.17
  3. Academic degree: 4.16
  4. Foreign language fluency: 4.05
  5. College major: 3.73
  6. GPA: 3.45
  7. Projects or portfolio: 3.31
  8. Awards or accomplishments: 3.28
  9. Promotions: 3.19
  10. College minor: 3.16
  11. Computer or software skills: 3.09
  12. Job title: 3.09
  13. Dates of employment: 3.02
  14. Duties of former position: 2.99
  15. Research skills: 2.94
  16. Salary: 2.89
  17. Presentation skills: 2.83
  18. Membership in a club or organization: 2.81
  19. References: 2.79
  20. Communication skills: 2.67
  21. Year of graduation: 2.63

The study found that the top reason for lying on a resume was to seem like a good match for a job. Nearly half of those surveyed said they had embellished their resume in an effort to better fit a job opening.

Another common reason people cited for lying on a resume was to make it appear as though they had a wider-ranging skill set than they really did. The study found that 21 percent of job seekers who lied on a résumé did so to look more experienced or well-rounded.

Other reasons survey respondents gave for not being truthful on their resume included to avoid being embarrassed by the truth, to appear smarter, to have more in common with the interviewer, to hide employment gaps and to avoid age discrimination.

Just 9 percent of the workers surveyed said they would never lie on a resume.

The study found that the unemployed, applicants ages 55 to 64 and job seekers with no high school diploma were the most likely to lie on their résumés. In addition, men were more likely to lie than women.

The study was based on surveys of 2,000 U.S. residents.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.