The Worst Thing You're Lying About on Your Resume

Experts say getting caught lying about this is the quickest way to end a job interview.

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Many people will go the distance to secure their dream job. But putting in extra effort doesn't mean you can sprinkle a few white lies onto your resume. While many people assume this is a harmless way to boost their hiring chances, it can actually do a lot of damage—with potentially serious consequences depending on the lie you tell. According to experts, the worst thing you're lying about on your resume is your knowledge of a specific skill. Read on to find out why you should never lie about this, and for more mistruths to avoid, check out these Lies Everyone Tells During a Job Interview.

Jennifer Roquemore, a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Resume Writing Services, says that people often see lying about a particular skill as the easiest to get away with on their resume. And it's true: A 2020 Resume Lab found that two of the three most common lies people admitted to telling on their resumes were lying about experience and lying about skills.

According to Roquemore, that's because this lie is not something that could be easily fact-checked through a background check, as opposed to your work history or educational background. However, there are still plenty of ways for hiring managers to discern the truth.

"It's pretty common for employers to incorporate some sort of skills test during the hiring process to make sure applicants have the technical prowess required to do their jobs," Roquemore says. "If the skill you lied about on your resume happens to be on the test, that's one way to potentially get caught."

Roquemore also says that some job interviewers will ask tough questions or even trick questions during your interview to "test your level of expertise on a particular skill." And being caught in a lie is the quickest way to end your chances of landing a particular job.

"If you're caught lying on your resume, there's basically a 0 percent chance of moving on to the next stage of the hiring process," she says. "I've certainly never hired anyone whom I've caught lying on their application."

And the trouble doesn't stop if you somehow manage to evade the hiring managers and get the job, says Cindy Deuser, an HR manager at Thrive Agency, with more than 10 years of experience in the HR industry.

"If you faked knowledge for a program or tool, then you better be ready when it gets tested at work," Deuser says. "They would assume you know it well and that you don't need further training. You are just digging your own grave, and it will lead to more issues at work. And most importantly, if it does not reflect your performance, you will be seen as incompetent and this can ultimately lead to you getting fired."

Even if you're able to hang onto your job, you're not likely to get a glowing review from the company moving forward in your career. Magda Zurawska, an HR manager at ResumeLab with more than four years of experience in the HR industry, says that lying about your knowledge of a skill will leave a "bitter aftertaste and distrust in future collaboration."

"It costs, time, money, resources, and frustration to make up for your lie," she says. "You better have a mighty explanation because frankly, that's what it'll take to be retained and trained."

Overall, Roquemore says there is a difference between lying and exaggerating on your resume. "If you you say you're an expert in a skill, when you're probably just proficient at it, that's totally OK," she says. "But lying about pretty much anything on your resume is a terrible idea."

Yes, lying about your expertise with a specific skill isn't the only lie you need to omit from your resume. Keep reading for more lies to keep off your resume, and for other things you should never lie about, This Is Why You Shouldn't Lie to Your Eye Doctor About Floaters.

1
Your degree

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Deuser says the most common lie she finds on resumes is people claiming to have a degree that doesn't actually exist. "And it's the easiest thing to detect. Just one phone call to the university and it's all over," Deuser warns. And for more things you should know when searching for a job, check out these Interview Tips Hiring Managers Wish You Knew.

2
Your employment history

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Mark Hayes, head of marketing and hiring manager at Kintell, says that it's also "remarkably easy" for your lie to get uncovered if you're faking your employment history. "A simple Google search might show that the company never existed at all, or you never worked there. You'll receive questions you can't answer, and the interview won't last very long after that," he says. And for more ways you could tank a job interview, discover The Worst Thing You Can Do When Introducing Yourself.

3
Your previous employment timeframe

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While some people aren't willing to actually lie about places of employment on their resumes, they may be willing to flub the dates if they've been jobless for some time. Chris Muktar, founder of WikiJob, says people do this because they're often scared that a company won't hire them if they find out they've been jobless for an extended period of time. But Muktar says it's better to be honest about your time of unemployment because hiring mangers "can still find out your employment history with your government contributions and with your tax documents, as well." And for more useful information delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

4
Your official titles at previous jobs

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Jim Sullivan, an experienced HR professional and founder of recruiting service JCSI, says many people will often lie about the official position they held at a previous job. He says people use this to "upgrade their title to something they never had to make themselves appear more official." Not only is this easy to fact-check—it can also jeopardize your ability to do a certain job if you're hired. And for more lies to avoid, this is The Single Biggest Lie You Need to Stop Telling Yourself.

Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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