Is Lying on a Resume Ever Okay?

by Pranav Ramesh
March 02, 2021
Lying on a Resume & Job Application

A job is a relationship between an employer and an employee. There is a certain level of trust each party has to instill in the other for it to work. Like any other relationship, those that start with dishonesty don’t last, and they usually end badly. Lying on your resume is the last thing you want to do at the critical beginning of your new professional relationship.

Is there ever a time when it is okay to lie on a resume? No, there is not. And here is why.

Topics Covered:

  • Why is lying on a resume bad?
  • Why do people lie on a resume?
  • What if you already lied on your resume?

Why is lying on a resume bad?

You will be caught

It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, but eventually, you will be caught. Everyone, including employers, has access to information about you. They can, and do, Google just like you Googled them when you were researching the company. They have also become savvier, researching applicants and employees on a daily basis, and are better at unearthing information online than ever before.

As if that wasn’t compelling enough, most employers have access to additional information that you won’t find just by searching—background checks, drug screens, financial records, professional peers, industry acquaintances —every professional source you could possibly think of is at their disposal and employers are not afraid to use them.

You destroy your reputation

Lying on your resume is one of the fastest ways to get blackballed not only from a company but possibly from an entire region or industry. Professionals are always networking within and outside their organizations. They attend the same events, are connected on social media, and browse the same message boards online. When you are caught lying on your resume, there is a good chance they will share that information.

You will never feel, or be, safe

Some applicants think, if they just get the job, everything will turn out all right. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Anyone can terminate your employment, at any date in the future, if they find that you falsified your information to get in. It doesn’t matter if you are discovered a week after getting hired, or years; your job will always be in jeopardy. Knowing you could be exposed and fired at any time, regardless of your performance, is extremely mentally taxing. Typical work stress is enough for anyone to deal with, there’s no reason to add to it.

You won’t perform well

Experience is great, but not when it is negative. If you are thinking about lying on your resume, it is likely because you are not qualified for the job. Granted, the job expectations may be high, possibly even realistic, but that doesn’t mean they go away once you start the work. Lying on your resume to get a job that you won’t succeed at does more harm to your work history than good.

RELATED: What Employers Look for in a Resume?


Why do people lie on a resume?

Those who choose to lie on their resume are looking for ways to cheat to get ahead. Some have little to no experience and believe that the only way to get that experience is by lying their way into a position. Having no experience could make your job search more difficult, but not impossible. Look for an internship or more entry-level position first, with the goal of working your way up.

Some feel like they are competing against other candidates and that the only way to get ahead is by lying on their resumes. This is nothing but a misconception. Your resume should be a tool to help get you an interview, but it is not the only one. Connect with recruiters and hiring managers on social media. Post frequently, and professionally, to start building your personal brand. Join groups, attend meetups, and participate in events to build your network. Most importantly, when you are looking for a job, tell everyone!

The last reason people choose to lie on a resume is that they feel the minimum requirements are unrealistic. Could that be true? Absolutely. But that doesn’t justify being dishonest to get the job. Remember, just as their understanding of what the job requires could be wrong, so could yours. Give the benefit of the doubt and recognize that there may be more to the position than what meets the eye. Even if you are one-hundred percent certain the job description is wrong (e.g. expecting 10 years’ experience for a technology that is only been around for 5 years), it is no reason to lie on your resume. Is that really the type of company you want to work for anyway?

What if you already lied on your resume?

If you are reading this, odds are you are either considering lying on a resume or already have. Hopefully, it is the former, and you have decided against it. But if you have already lied, it is time to make the best of a bad situation. Now is the time to come clean.

If you have submitted a resume but have not yet been