When it comes to lying on your resume, some are worse than others. Everyone tends to embellish a bit on their application materials, perhaps padding the stats, or puffing up just how many responsibilities you had while serving as an assistant manager two jobs ago. It may not seem like all that big of a deal to pass along a little white lie about something inconsequential regarding your past, but from an employer’s perspective, it can be a sign of serious character flaws or trouble down the road.
After all, they’re the ones who are investing thousands, or potentially millions of dollars in hiring candidates they hope will add value to their operation — not surf in on a wave of falsities and self-serving and grandiose fabrications about their experience and abilities.
But when you’re going through the job search process, it can be very easy to justify a little lie here and there on your cover letter or resume. All you’re trying to do, in most cases, is get any kind of advantage you can on your competition, and if you’re having trouble getting an interview, it can be very easy to justify a few fibs.
Lying on your resume
When you do lie on your CV, however, you’re leaving yourself open to the possibility that your employer — or your prospective employer — could find out. They may crack the cipher during the hiring process, or after you get hired, but either way, it’s going to put you in a very bad position. Essentially, if you’d be accepting a job under false pretenses; Imagine how you would feel if you were hired by a company that wasn’t at all what they purported to be? You wouldn’t be happy, and you’d feel cheated.
A healthy relationship relies on trust, and that goes for personal relationships and those between employees and employers. If you build that relationship on a foundation of lies, it’s only a matter of time before cracks start to form. Here are five ways those cracks can get their start.
1. Social media
Lots of people seem to forget that social media accounts can be accessed by almost anyone. You may unwittingly accept a friend or follower request from someone, not realizing it’s an employer or potential employer, and they can then piece together your lies or half-truths they see on your application materials. Social media content can and does cost people jobs and offers, and if you don’t have your security settings air-tight — or just mindlessly post things that you shouldn’t — things could blow up in your face.
2. Reference checks
You’ve probably been through several job application processes in which your references were never checked, or your background never fully investigated. Truth is, many employers don’t have the time or manpower to do it. But if you’re going for a high-up position or one that is incredibly important to an employer, expect that they will. They’re simply not going to take chances. And if your references don’t add up to what the information you’ve supplied on your CV? You probably won’t get a call back.
3. Proficiency tests
So, your resume says you know the entire Adobe Creative Suite, and that you can quickly and efficiently spit out pivot tables in Excel? Oh, and can code in C# and Java? You’d better hope they don’t ask you to prove it, especially if you’ve only watched a Youtube tutorial one time, several years ago. Proficiency tests are there to separate the wheat from the chaff, and if you’re claiming certain abilities, these tests will determine whether you can actually live up to those claims.
4. You can’t keep your story straight
Interviews can be stressful, and a lot of people can’t hold it all together under scrutiny. This is a prime opportunity for employers to tease out any inconsistencies or fabrications with your resume. They may want you to explain your responsibilities or accomplishments, for example, and see how you react. Also, if you’re telling different interviewers different things, or even co-workers after you’ve gotten the job different things, you’ll eventually be exposed.
5. Loved ones and co-workers
If you’ve already gotten a job based on a fib-filled resume, you’ve got to keep your story together. Make sure a loved one doesn’t say something that might expose you at a company party, or that you don’t say something stupid in a booze-fueled haze during a Friday happy hour. This is why it’s always best to stick to the truth: Everybody’s on the same page, and you don’t need to worry about any lies catching up to you.