Search
Advice » Resumes & Letters» Resume Writing Tips » Lying on Your Resume
Lying on Your Resume

Lying on Your Resume

What Are the Career Consequences?

When a woman we'll call Mary was offered a high-level student-services position at a prestigious college, she was thrilled to accept. But two years later, Mary was fired despite strong performance reviews and a reputation as a rising star at the college. The reason? She lied on her resume -- and got caught.

An HR initiative requiring employees to furnish college transcripts revealed Mary lied about having a master's degree. It wasn't lack of a degree that cost Mary her job; it was her dishonesty. Unemployed and with a blown reference to boot, Mary demonstrates what can happen when you lie on your resume.

Companies are growing increasingly savvy in ferreting out resume cheaters through more comprehensive background checks conducted both pre- and posthire. Why the latter? Subpar job performance can prompt a follow-up investigation into an employee's past. If dishonesty is discovered, it is often grounds for termination and possibly legal action.

Yet Mary is hardly alone in falsifying information on a resume. Steven D. Levitt, coauthor of Freakonomics and a renowned economics professor at the University of Chicago, cites research suggesting that more than 50 percent of people lie on their resumes.

Given such repercussions as Mary's fate, you might wonder why anyone would attempt to get away with lying on a resume in the first place. Levitt refers to a W.C. Fields quote in his explanation: "Anything worth winning is worth cheating for."

Power -- and Misery -- Foster Temptation

In a kind of twist on the Peter Principle, which suggests that within corporate hierarchies, employees tend to be promoted until they reach their ultimate levels of incompetence, Levitt postulates that "the higher up in the organization a person rises, the more likely it is that he or she will cheat."

His observation is certainly borne out by news headlines about executives resigning in the face of resume dishonesty. Common resume lies include falsifying academic credentials, padding dates to mask employment gaps, exaggerating job titles, embellishing job responsibilities and achievements, claiming sole responsibility for team efforts and even making up fictitious employers.

Levitt also found a correlation between mood and the temptation to cheat. The desperation felt when weeks of unemployment stretch into months, or the low morale experienced by someone employed but truly miserable in a job, appear to increase the incentive to lie.

The Big Consequences of Little Lies

"The best lies will be those that mirror reality," Levitt says. "My hunch is that the reputed 50 percent of resume cheaters are mostly making little cheats here and there, for instance, to cover up times when they were out of the labor force for six months."

Perhaps viewing these mistruths as harmless white lies or marketing spin, people who lie on a resume may end up doing more damage -- to themselves and others -- than they realize.

"When someone else cheats, it hurts the honest people," Levitt says. Honest job seekers can be edged out of competition by individuals who give themselves an unfair advantage by fabricating or exaggerating credentials.

And what about the damage cheaters do to themselves? "Even if you are never caught, you will have to live in constant fear that someday you will be caught and punished and with the guilt of knowing what you did was wrong," Levitt warns.

Honest Strategies for Getting Ahead

No matter what the reason or justification for lying, if your resume isn't entirely truthful, know this: You don't have to resort to lying to win a job. There are ethical resume strategies you can use to address issues like job-hopping, time off from the workforce, minimal work experience, lack of or incomplete college degrees, being fired and having a criminal record.

Levitt's research findings and the stories of job seekers who got caught lying on their resumes are cautionary tales to anyone in the workforce: You jeopardize your future when you lie about your past.

Latest Jobs

Spartan Staffing
Posted: 10/23/2014
Shawnee, OK, 74804
Active Network
Posted: 10/23/2014
San Diego, CA, 92121
A-L-L Equipment, Inc.
Posted: 10/23/2014
Moline, IL, 61265
HCR ManorCare
Posted: 10/23/2014
Virginia Beach, VA
HCR ManorCare
Posted: 10/23/2014
Terre Haute, IN

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile

 
 
 

Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
ArtBistro
Create and connect.
Excelle
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships
Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Education.org
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military.com
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.

Interviewing

100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2014 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2014.4.65.72-204
eTrustLogo