Lying on Your Resume?  Here’s how Employers Will Catch You

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The Importance of Honesty on a Resume

In the world of recruitment, resumes are the first glimpse into a candidate’s potential within your company. What happens when those resumes aren’t being entirely truthful about said candidates? At About Staffing, we understand the importance of honesty on a resume.

In this blog, we will dive into how employers can spot lies on a resume, the consequences of deception in your career, and tips for job seekers to stay honest. Whether you are a human resource professional or a job seeker looking to stand out, we are here to guide you to understand the importance of an honest resume.

Why do People Lie on their Resumes

Unfortunately, there isn’t one single reason for people to lie on their resumes. This means it’s not always clear what the person’s motive might be for being dishonest in their job applications.

Below, we will cover some of the more common reasons a candidate might lie on their resume and some explanations for each.

1. Fierce Competition in the Job Market

In today’s highly competitive job market, it can be a daunting challenge to land your next position.

Job seekers feel pressured to stand out in a sea of highly qualified candidates. It may seem like an impossible task to do without a bit of exaggeration on your resume.

Some job seekers attempt to gain a “competitive advantage”, or at least the façade of having one, by resorting to lies on their resume. While wrong, they see this as the only way to have a chance at landing the job.

2. Desire for Career Advancement

Many professionals are aiming to climb the corporate ladder in their careers. They may think that they need to better align their current skills and experience to the role they wish to move into.

Describing how your current skills and experience will apply to a new position is encouraged. Lying and fabricating a skill set or experience that you do not possess is not.

3. Fear of Being Underqualified

People tend to apply to roles that allow them to progress forward, not laterally. Often making them believe they are viewed as underqualified if they haven’t performed the same duties before.

They see it as necessary to overstate their qualifications to compensate for their perceived inexperience.

4. Economic Necessity

Financial pressure can lead many people to make out-of-character decisions, including lying on their resume.

If money is tight and the job seeker is looking for a compensation boost, they may try to bend the truth to support that increase in income.

5. Lack of Confidence

Just because someone felt they needed to lie on their resume doesn’t always mean they aren’t qualified for the role.

In some cases, people qualified for the role exaggerate their resumes as they don’t have the self-confidence to present themselves honestly.

6. Desire for a Fresh Start

Some individuals have faced setbacks in their careers that they wish to forget.

By excluding specific details and information on their resume they try to hide the big picture and create a new narrative for their story.

They may tweak their employment dates or change their previous job title to present themselves more favourably to potential employers.

What are the Most Common Lies on a Resume?

1. Exaggerated Job Titles and Responsibilities

Job seekers are typically looking to progress upward in their careers.

If the position they wish to move into is too many steps above their role, they might tweak their current titles to better appeal to their desired position.

2. Inflated Educational Requirements

If there are educational requirements for a role, it’s safe to assume that there will be people lying about theirs. Usually, it’s just to get a shot at an interview.

While these requirements are becoming less common for more general positions, they are typically still required for specialized jobs.

3. False Employment Dates

Altering employment dates is done by many people for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s to cover up employment gaps or extend the duration of a job to show more relevant experience, it is a frequent resume lie.

Job seekers tend to do this to present themselves with a more consistent work history or make them appear more committed to previous roles.

4. Fake Certifications or Credentials

Similar to fluffing up or lying about educational achievements, some job seekers see creating fake certifications as a way to verify and legitimize their skill set.

It usually happens because they lack the necessary qualifications for the role.

5. Misleading Skill Proficiency

Listing skills you have a basic understanding of is encouraged so long as they are relevant to the role.

Claiming you have mastered these skills, or have advanced knowledge in them when you don’t is not.

This is a common lie when job seekers try to align their skill set with the required skills of the role.

What Happens if you’re Caught Lying on your Resume?

While lying on your resume may seem like a tempting shortcut to landing your dream job, the consequences usually far outweigh the potential benefits.

Below will go over some negatives you may encounter, should you choose to lie on your resume.

1. Damage to Professional Reputation

When an employer becomes aware of a candidate’s dishonesty, not only will that almost guarantee their chance at landing the job is gone, but it can also tarnish their reputation.

Not only within the company they applied to but also for others operating in that industry. Word can get around quickly, making it hard to secure employment in the future.

2. Immediate Termination

If you are not qualified to perform the tasks and you get the position due to your lying, you are in for a rude awakening.

You face the threat of being fired once the truth comes out.

The employer won’t be under any legal obligation to keep you employed if you fail to meet the required qualifications to perform the job.

3. Legal Ramifications

Depending on what types of roles you are applying to and what sort of lies you tell, you could get yourself tangled up in quite the legal web.

Some jobs require specific qualifications as you are working in sensitive areas. Lying about these could cause an employer to face financial consequences for hiring you.

In turn, this may lead them to pursue legal action against you.

4. Loss of Trust and Credibility

The most common consequence of lying on your resume or anywhere is a loss of trust.

A loss of trust or credibility in the workplace can make your work life difficult. Trying to accomplish anything will come with doubts and questions from your co-workers and employers.

5. Reputational Damage to the Employer

If a company hires you to perform a specific task based on qualifications and experience you lied about, and you fail to do the job properly, that reflects poorly on the company first.

Leading to a likely termination of your employment and could open up the door for potential legal action should damage caused to their reputation be significant.

6. Emotional and Psychological Stress

The fear of the truth being exposed and the guilt associated with lying to your potential employer can be a significant stress inducer.

This stress can negatively impact job performance and overall well-being.

7. Industry Blacklisting

Depending on how far you make it with your lie, you could potentially be blacklisted in the industry you work once your lies come to the surface.

It’s one of the more severe consequences in terms of halting your career progression and difficulty finding work.

8. Negative Impact on References

If you lie on your resume you will run into trouble when asking for references.

If you are looking for a reference to back up your false claims, you risk losing that reference altogether.

Putting someone in a position where they have to lie to others for you is never good and shouldn’t be something your references have to go through.

How Employers Can Spot Lies on a Resume

It’s no secret that a considerable amount of job seekers either lie or bend the truth on their resume.

For this reason, employers have a few standard practices they may choose to use if they believe you might be blurring the truth on your resume.

1. Comprehensive Reference Checks

A very common tool employers and recruiters utilize for fact-checking is a candidate’s references.

While these can be manipulated, it is typically the starting point for verifying information about a candidate, their resume, and any concerns from a job interview.

2. Skill Assessment and Testing

When a role requires a certain level of knowledge in one skill or another, you may find employers will actually test your skills.

Most of the time, the tests verify if you have a basic understanding of the skill.

In more technical fields, such as programming, the testing will quickly become more comprehensive, making it harder to get away with lying.

3. Cross-Referencing Online Profiles

If you lie on your resume, be sure all your profiles match, especially LinkedIn. Employers will almost always investigate your online professional profiles.

If they find discrepancies between these platforms, it will raise red flags.

4. Verification of Education, Certification and Licenses

If you have stated that you hold a certain level of education or a specific certificate, it is more than likely going to be verified by your potential employer.

It isn’t hard to find records of your proclaimed achievements, so consider this a warning to be careful.

5. Investigating Employment Gaps

If there are any inconsistencies in your work history, you will likely be asked about it during your interview to see if you have valid answers to fill in those gaps.

They will look to see how long your gaps are before determining if there is something worth digging into.

Both LinkedIn and your resume should be consistent in this regard.

6. Conducting Background Checks

Sometimes, employers will ask if you are comfortable undergoing a background check. While you are entitled to say no, this is viewed as more of an answer than a non-answer.

Usually, denying the background check means you won’t be considered for the role.

Being honest about everything beforehand will ensure no unwelcome surprises appear during this process.

7. The Job Interview

The most common way an employer will uncover lies and deflate inflated qualifications will be during the interview stage of the hiring process.

The interview is their chance to ask about any concerns, issues, or discrepancies they discovered while reviewing your resume and cover letter.

8. Spotting Overly Vague Language

Companies aren’t looking for generic industry terms that mean nothing without quantifiable evidence to back it up.

Don’t just say you “contributed to company success.” employers look for the HOW, not the WHAT.

Tips to be Honest on Your Resume

1. Be Truthful From The Start

Once you start lying, it can be hard to stop. It’s best to start off on the right foot and be truthful from the beginning.

Creating a foundation of integrity will serve you better in the long run for your career.

2. Keep Accurate Records

Maintain a detailed record of your educational achievements, job history, and any certifications/awards you may receive in your career.

Having accurate information readily available will help you to avoid any unintentional discrepancies.

3. Be Specific

Avoid using vague statements and industry jargon if you can’t be specific.

If you find it hard to be exact about your achievements, it likely means you aren’t being 100% truthful about them.

4. Seek Feedback and Verification

A great place to start is using your references to make sure they feel comfortable backing up your resume. Employers might ask them about any part of it.

If they happen to notice something is off in your resume, the chances are so will the employer during their screening process.

5. Address Employment Gaps Honestly

Transparency will go a long way. Unless you have an extreme outlier situation, the employer will likely understand the gap in your work history.

Honesty and openness to discuss these challenges also show the employer you are ready and willing to tackle difficult discussions head-on.

To Wrap Up


Lying on your resume, even if it seems insignificantcan seem like a harmless way to make yourself more attractive to prospective employers.

The truth of it is they can cause significant damage to both yourself and the employer, depending on the situation.

The consequences of dishonesty in a work setting can be severe and costly for you as a job seeker.

Overall, it is much better to be honest and have discussions about shortcomings than it is to lie about them in an attempt to cover them up.

At About Staffing, we have been refining our resume review process since 1996, making it easy for us to spot dishonest job seekers and resumes.

If you are looking to hire for a role and you are nervous about candidates lying on their resumes we can help make sure you get the right candidate every time.

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Frequently Asked Questions


Is lying on your resume illegal?

Lying on your resume is not illegal. With that said, it can lead to legal issues. Depending on your line of work and the nature of the lies you are telling, the employer may have grounds to take legal action against you. Harm to customers or losses for your employer caused by your lies may be grounds for negligence-related legal issues. Beyond legal reasons, as discussed in this post, lying on your resume can damage your professional reputation and lead to more rejections. In summary, while it may not be explicitly illegal, it’s a risky and unethical practice with many potential consequences.

How do I recover from lying on my resume?

Recovering from lying on your resume can be challenging however the following steps should help you get back on track.


  1. Admit to your mistake: Acknowledge you messed up and lied on your resume. Accepting this is the first step towards a full recovery.
  2. Correct the situation: If you are still on the job, consider discussing the inaccuracies with your employer and providing corrected information. Honesty and transparency can go a long way.
  3. Professional Development: Invest in learning the skills you claim to have. Take the relevant courses or gain more experience to make your previous statements more true.
  4. Demonstrate integrity moving forward: Redact any false claims and moving forward be honest in your abilities and experience to show you have learned from your mistakes.
  5. Resume Reconstruction: Craft a truthful version of your resume that only focuses on genuine skills and experience, even if they are not as lavish as before.


It may be a quick fix or it could take a long time to rebuild the trust you have lost but it will be worth it in the end.

Do employers always check if you are lying?

Each employer is different in how thoroughly they check resumes. While some conduct comprehensive checks, others focus only on specific qualifications. However, honesty remains crucial because even if lies aren’t immediately caught, they can harm your professional reputation and lead to consequences later on.

What should I do if a candidate is lying on their resume?

If you suspect a candidate is lying on their resume, follow a structured approach: First, verify the information and document any discrepancies you discover. Then, conduct an interview to discuss your findings and contact references. Consult HR or legal for guidance, and have a candid conversation with the candidate to hear their side. Assess the severity of the lie and whether it impacts their ability to perform the job. Finally, make a decision regarding their suitability for the position, and use the experience to improve your screening processes for the future.