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5 Things You Should Never Lie About on Your Resume

Experts say that stretching the truth in certain cases can cause major issues.

When trying to get hired for a job, it can be tempting to stretch the truth here and there to give ourselves an edge. After all, many people are guilty of exaggerating their experience or overselling their skills on a resume. But what you may think is just a little white lie might be a big red flag for employers. There are some embellishments that could not only cost you the job but also impact your future employment opportunities. Talking to hiring experts, we got an inside look at what applicants should always avoid fabricating. Read on to find out the five things you should never lie about on your resume.

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The amount of time you spent at another job.

woman getting fired from work. Female walks through the office, carrying box with personal belongings. Business, firing and job loss concept

No one wants a hiring manager to notice a glaring gap in their work history. But don't try to cover this up by lying about how long you actually worked at a prior job—even if it's just a short stretch, warns Dan Shortridge, a national certified resume writer and owner of Results Resumes. "That can be easily verified during a formal background check and [is] often grounds for rejection or dismissal."

Nichole Mendez, director of talent acquisition at BAM, says it's better to be "honest, positive, and clear" about work gaps because they're not unusual. "You're not the first person to leave a role without a backup plan in place, need to take a break due to personal circumstances such as family or health, or even make time for that sabbatical you've always dreamed of," she says. "You're also not the first person to be laid off or get fired, especially in a turbulent job market."

Shortridge recommends filling your time between jobs with "family caregiving, travel, freelancing, or consulting work" if you're concerned about a long gap on your resume. "Highlight what you took the time to focus on. Explain what you did accomplish during the gaps on your resume, what you learned, and how you have grown," Mendez adds.

Your training and certifications.

A close up of a gold seal adorned with a blue ribbon is attatched to the corner of a certificate of achievement which rests on top of a gray background which provides ample room for copy or text.

Having certain certifications can certainly give you a leg up when applying to specific jobs. But don't lie about training you don't have. Shirley Borg, the head of human resources at Energy Casino, tells Best Life she often sees "unnecessary lies about training or certifications" on resumes. Usually, people do this when they want to "somehow prove that they possessed a certain skill," she explains.

But according to Borg, this kind of lie is likely to come to light as soon as you start the job. "It would have been enough to just describe during the job interview what you can do and what the limits of your skills are, rather than make up a certification you do not have."

Speaking a foreign language.

Shot of two work colleagues using a digital tablet during a business meeting at work

Thinking about falsifying your foreign language knowledge on your resume? Well, think again because this can come back to bite you quickly, according to Andrew Taylor, a legal expert and the director of Net Lawman. "If you agree that you speak, for example, Italian, you put yourself in danger that one day you will be greeted by an Italian client and the boss expects you to sell them a product, and you will have no idea what they are talking about."

Nicky Dutta, a career expert who oversees hiring at Lorel Diamonds as the CEO, says this is something many candidates lie about on their resume despite being a skill that is easy to check. "Plenty of people have been faking their fluency in a certain language because they feel like it wouldn't be necessary to use it in the position they're applying for," Dutta explains. "While this sounds like a great resume embellishment, it's a risk you wouldn't want to take. You can't predict when you'll have to demonstrate this skill to your employer, especially if the company deals with foreign clients."

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Your connections in the industry.

Businessmen making handshake with his partner in cafe - business etiquette, congratulation, merger and acquisition concepts

Knowing the right people can definitely help you when you're trying to get hired. But lying about who you know can hurt your chances. Gates Little, CEO of The Southern Bank Company's financing platform altLINE, tells Best Life that he has witnessed applicants "name drop" an industry bigwig on their resume without actually having any connection. "[They] scramble to cover their lie when it turns out I know the person they've mentioned."

More often than not, you will get caught and look like a fraud when lying about a mentor or connection. "All of the energy and effort put into the deception would be better served finding a real mentor," Little advises. "So try reaching out to the people you are tempted to name-drop. You may be surprised how willing they are to lend a hand or share tips over coffee!"

Your formal education.

group of graduates holding diploma

When referencing your formal education on your resume, you should always "remain strictly factual," according to Nuria Requena, a talent acquisition manger at Spacelift. "Listing a degree that you didn't attain will definitely come back to haunt you once an employer checks your claims," Requena warns.

Not only that but lying about your degree is "on the verge of breaking the law," Taylor adds. "It's easy to check, and no one needs such inconvenience."

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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