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Lying On a Resume: Is It Ever Okay?

NotAmused_ResumeLieLittle white lies. Exaggerations. Harmless untruths. Whatever you want to call them, lies are everywhere, and everyone lies, as Pamela Meyer notes in her recent TEDTalk. Reseach shows that a person may hear anywhere from 10 to 200 lies on a given day. Given that most of these lies are minor (and that we’re guilty of lying ourselves), we tend to accept this notion as part of our culture – so long as the lies we tell and are told don’t hurt anyone.

When it comes to the workplace, however, we might not be as tolerant. Specifically, when it comes to lying on one’s resume.  A 2012 CareerBuilder survey found that 38 percent of employees have embellished their job responsibilities at some point, while 18 percent have lied about their skill sets.

As a hiring manager or a recruiter, you’ve likely come across a few resume lies yourself. Some may be blatant, while others may be less so – to the point, in fact, where they’re not discovered until after the candidate has been hired (if ever). What then?

While one can make the case that words on a resume aren’t as important as proven skills and abilities, at what point does a resume lie become a fireable offense?

Last year, in just the latest of several high-profile cases involving resume lies, then-Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson admitted that he didn’t actually have a computer science degree – as he’d claimed on his resume. While many were calling for Thompson’s dismissal, others, including Reuters’ John Abell, defended Thompson, who argued that Thompson’s lack of a degree didn’t add to or take away from his ability to perform his role:

“Sure, lying on your resume is not a good thing, and it shouldn’t be rewarded. But in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t rate.”

Do you agree? If you were to discover that a high performing employee lied on his/her resume, would you be willing to overlook such an offense? Even if the lie hasn’t compromised said employee’s ability to fulfill the role? Or are you of the school of thought that, as hrbartender says, “anything you put on your resume is attached to who you are as a person”?

Tell us: When it comes to lying on a resume, where do you draw the line?

Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.

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Accounting Resume
Accounting Resume

Lying on resume is the worst habit when writing a resume. To get best resume with out lying is to spend some money on a professional resume writing service.


There's a different type of lie on a resume... lying to get ahead of the auto-scanners that will delete your resume without it being seen by human eyes. I'm trying to relocate across the country. I have family that lives in the area I'm trying to relocate to, and I use their address, and I'm using Google Voice to have a "local" phone number.When I get contacted by interested parties, be it a recruiter or a hiring manager, I'm up-front that I'm not a local. The intent isn't to deceive, rather, the intent is to be given a fair shot. 


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