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Resume Lies

Top 15 Resume Lies

There are all sorts of ways people can lie on their resume. From falsifying personal information to constructing fake work experiences, a resume lie knows bounds.

Some of the most common ways lying on a resume occurs include:

          1. Embellished Skill Levels
          2. Inflated Titles and Responsibilities
          3. Fabricated Education and Degrees
          4. Exaggerated Language Proficiency
          5. False Employment Dates
          6. Invented Work Experience
          7. Misrepresented Project Contributions
          8. Overstated Technical Abilities
          9. Claimed Awards and Honors That Were Never Received
          10. Lies About Freelance Work
          11. Untrue Volunteer Experiences
          12. Falsified References
          13. Incorrect Certification Details
          14. Misleading GPA or Academic Achievements
          15. Exaggerated Accomplishments and Results

Embellished Skill Levels

Many applicants feel the urge to overstate their proficiency in various skills, from languages to software proficiency. Remember, skill levels can be easily verified through practical tests or interviews, making honesty the safest route.

Inflated Titles and Responsibilities

Another common lie is enhancing previous job titles or the responsibilities held. While it’s tempting to appear more qualified, employers value authenticity and the real learning experiences you’ve gathered.

Fabricated Education and Degrees

Claiming to have degrees or attending institutions you did not can be a critical mistake. Background checks often reveal the truth, potentially damaging your professional reputation permanently.

Exaggerated Language Proficiency

Overstating language skills is risky, especially if the job requires proficiency in that language. Miscommunication in a professional setting can lead to significant issues, undermining your credibility.

False Employment Dates

Adjusting employment dates to cover gaps in employment is a common but risky lie. Employers appreciate transparency and the reasons behind such gaps, like personal development or searching for the right opportunity.

Invented Work Experience

Creating non-existent jobs or companies may seem like a way to fill gaps or add prestige, but this is easily uncovered by a simple background check or during the interview process.

Misrepresented Project Contributions

Claiming a leading role in a project or exaggerating your contribution can be tempting. However, it’s essential to be honest about your role and what you learned from the experience.

Overstated Technical Abilities

Technology fields are particularly prone to this lie, with candidates claiming expertise they don’t have. Given the rapid pace of tech advancements, being honest about your current knowledge and willingness to learn is more valuable.

Claimed Awards and Honors That Were Never Received

While it might boost your resume’s appeal, being dishonest about receiving certain awards or honors can be easily verified by the employer and lead to embarrassment or job loss.

Lies About Freelance Work

Fabricating freelance projects or clients to appear more experienced or diverse in your skills can backfire, especially if references or portfolios are requested.

Untrue Volunteer Experiences

Volunteer experiences enrich a resume, but fabricating these can detract from your character when the truth comes out. Genuine volunteer work demonstrates your commitment to community and personal growth.

Falsified References

Providing fake references or friends disguised as former employers can lead to awkward situations and question your integrity when the truth is discovered.

Incorrect Certification Details

Misrepresenting certifications, especially in fields where they are crucial for safety or compliance, not only risks your job prospects but can also endanger others.

Misleading GPA or Academic Achievements

Altering your GPA or academic accolades may offer a short-term advantage, but the long-term consequences of being discovered can harm your career.

Exaggerated Accomplishments and Results

Many candidates feel tempted to exaggerate the results or accomplishments from their previous roles to make them seem more impactful. This can include inflating sales numbers, overstating the scale of projects managed, or claiming sole responsibility for team achievements.

Who Lies On Their Resume?

The truth might surprise you: a wide range of job seekers, from new graduates to seasoned professionals, might feel compelled to embellish their resumes.

The reasons vary, including trying to stand out in a saturated job market, attempting to bridge employment gaps, or feeling insecure about one’s qualifications.

However, it’s crucial to understand that lying on a resume can have far-reaching consequences, impacting not just the job in question but one’s entire career trajectory.

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The Ethics Of Lying On Your Resume

The Ethics Of Lying On Your Resume

Lying on your resume raises serious ethical questions. It’s not just about getting caught; it’s about integrity, honesty, and trustworthiness.

When you lie about your qualifications, you’re not only misrepresenting yourself to potential employers but also potentially taking opportunities away from other candidates who are honest about their experiences and capabilities.

Furthermore, if lies come to light after employment, it can lead to job loss and damage to your professional reputation.

Ethically, it’s vital to present an accurate portrayal of your skills and experiences, ensuring that any success you achieve is on the merits of your true abilities and hard work.

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Is Lying On Your Resume illegal?

Lying on your resume, while not generally considered illegal in the criminal sense for most professions, can cross into legal territory depending on the circumstances and the nature of the lie. Here’s a more detailed explanation:

Fraudulent Misrepresentation:

If the lies on your resume are used to secure a position and your employer suffers a loss or damages as a result of those lies, this could potentially be considered fraudulent misrepresentation. In such cases, an employer might have grounds to sue for damages if they can prove the lies directly led to financial losses.

Regulated Industries:

For jobs in certain regulated industries, such as healthcare, finance, or law, lying about your qualifications can be particularly serious. If you claim to have certifications, degrees, or licenses that you do not actually have, and these are required by law to perform your job, lying can result in legal penalties, including fines or even criminal charges for practicing without a valid license.

Contractual Breach:

Many employment contracts include clauses that require the information provided during the hiring process to be accurate. If it’s discovered that you lied, and your employment contract has a clause regarding the accuracy of the information provided, your employer could potentially take legal action for breach of contract.

Public Sector Employment:

Lying to obtain a job in the public sector may have more severe consequences, including criminal charges in some cases. This is especially true if the position involves public trust or security clearances.

Legal Declarations:

In some cases, you might be asked to sign a legal declaration or affidavit stating that the information on your resume is true to the best of your knowledge. Lying in such documents can be legally actionable and might lead to charges of perjury or making false statements.

Caught Lying On Your Resume

What happens if you get caught lying on a resume?

Getting caught lying on your resume can have several repercussions:

          • Immediate Job Loss: If your employer discovers the lie before or after hiring, it can lead to immediate dismissal. Most employment contracts include clauses that any dishonesty is grounds for termination.
          • Damage to Professional Reputation: Being caught in a lie can tarnish your professional reputation, making it difficult to find future employment, especially within the same industry where word can spread.
          • Loss of Professional Licenses: For professions that require licenses, lying can lead to disciplinary actions, including the revocation of licenses.
          • Legal Consequences: In cases where your lying has led to financial loss or harm to the company, there could be legal actions taken against you.
          • Personal and Ethical Consequences: Beyond professional implications, being caught can also lead to personal guilt and a tarnished ethical reputation.

Employers Finding Out

Can employers find out if you lied on your resume?

Yes, employers have several methods at their disposal to discover if a candidate has lied on their resume:

          • Background Checks: Employers commonly conduct background checks that can verify your employment history, education, and even criminal record.
          • Reference Checks: By contacting references or previous employers, companies can confirm your role, responsibilities, and performance.
          • Skill Assessments: Many employers use tests or projects during the hiring process to verify the skills you claim to have.
          • Digital Footprint: Your online presence on social media or professional networks can reveal inconsistencies with the information provided on your resume.
          • Direct Inquiry: Employers may ask detailed questions during interviews to verify the authenticity of your resume claims.


Updated: March 07, 2024

Yes, many employers conduct thorough background checks that can verify education, employment history, and even specific claims about projects or achievements. With the digital age, it’s easier than ever for employers to fact-check resumes.

If you’ve already submitted a resume with false information, consider updating it with accurate information for future applications. If you’re currently in a job obtained with a resume that had inaccuracies, focus on excelling in your role through hard work and professional development to mitigate past misrepresentations.

Focus on tailoring your resume to each job you apply for, highlighting relevant experiences and skills. Use specific examples of achievements and quantify them if possible (e.g., “increased sales by 20%”). Additionally, consider adding any professional development courses or volunteer work that showcases your skills and character.

While some might argue that small embellishments or “white lies” are harmless, the ethical standpoint is clear: honesty is always the best policy. The potential risks and consequences of lying far outweigh any short-term benefits.

Be honest and straightforward about employment gaps, focusing on what you did during those times that could be relevant to your job application, such as skills development, freelancing, or volunteering. For missing qualifications, highlight your willingness to learn, current relevant skills, and any plans for professional development.


Conor McMahon, CPRW

Conor McMahon, CPRW

Content Writer

Conor is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) for Hloom.com. He has over three years of professional writing experience as well as experience in professional development training. As a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches (PARWCC) Conor has written on career development topics ranging from resume and cover letter best practices, employer/employee communication, job seeking help, and more. He received his degree in Music Industry at Northeastern University and plays guitar in his free time.

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