2017-09-27 by Reese
Your resume is supposed to show your best traits — but only the ones that are actually true. It’s a sad fact that many people — 34 percent according to a Yahoo! survey — lie on their resumes. Given that number, you might think lying is easy to get away with, but it can land you in serious trouble. In addition to being simply unethical, lying on your resume can halt your career advancement and ruin relationships with influential people.
What constitutes a lie is sometimes hard to define. Workplace expert Liz Ryan noted in Forbes that often people don’t own their accomplishments, the opposite sin from lying about them. Recruiter Tim McIntyre, on the other hand, says embellishment as a form of self-promotion can sometimes cross the line, but the position of that line depends on the job and industry.
Ryan forgives dates that don’t quite match and similar transgressions, but scolds candidates who make up workplaces that never existed. Indeed, false references or education are hard to pass off as simple oversight. If you didn’t graduate from a school program, don’t pretend you did; that kind of information is easily checked. If you’re ever tempted to “beef up” your credentials, keep the consequences in mind.
You were chosen for the job in part because of your credentials. If you don’t have the skills your employer is looking for, there’s a good chance you’ll find the position incredibly challenging. Even if you think your embellishments are just “nice to haves” and not the essential elements required to do the job, at some point your boss will expect to see who she thought she hired. If you don’t have the qualifications, everyone will find out sooner rather than later.
Companies sometimes run audits of employee qualifications long after they have been hired. You could be comfortably going about your day and discover you’re about to be fired for lying on your initial application. It’s not a pleasant thought, but employers can view this kind of lie (even an old one) as a breach of trust. They can terminate your contract and even if they don’t, it may put doubt in the minds of those you work with. An employer who decides to keep you on might be reluctant to promote you because she questions the truth of what you say.
Working with others means developing camaraderie over time. If you’ve lied on your resume, you may have to keep up that lie with your coworkers. When someone finds out that you are not who you said you were, you will not only feel the consequences at this one job, but you’ll also suffer damage to your reputation within your industry. It will be difficult to find people who will speak well of you, since they know that you embellished on your resume — and it was not the kind of embellishment that’s justified as simple self-promotion.
For most people, the job they are most qualified to do is the one that makes them the happiest. When polishing your resume, focus on what you do best. Highlight your true strengths and passions and you’ll probably find there is an employer out there who will help you use them. If you’re looking for something that’s really right, there’s no need to lie.
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