To Lie or Not to Lie on Your Resume – Is It Even a Question Anymore?

To Lie or Not to Lie on Your Resume – Is It Even a Question Anymore?

By Tricia O'Connor

It’s the Wild West in the job market right now.

High unemployment numbers mean people have flooded applicant pools and hiring managers can shoot for the best of the best.

But what if you are just one of the rest?

You may be tempted to lie to get your foot in the door. You’re not alone. A pre-pandemic survey found 100% of us (yes, you read that right) are willing to lie in job interviews.

Here’s why candidates bend the truth and how HR can straighten things out.

Liar, Liar

Just like everything else these days, we can blame COVID-19 for this surge in subterfuge. The latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the unemployment rate at 8.4%, mostly due to pandemic-related job losses and slower hiring. Now, there is a swell of qualified workers to choose from and fewer jobs to go around.

“There is a recruiting advantage happening here. There is a broader availability of skilled labor so you can be a little more choosy from a talent perspective,” says Curt Schwall, Vice President of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs at EBI.

Faced with a difficult supply-and-demand disequilibrium and the desperate need for a paycheck, applicants are getting increasingly competitive and cheeky to land a job.

In this study, researchers found 100% of people are willing to fib their way through a job interview.

Some candidates are lying even before getting their first call back. HR Dive reports 36% of Americans bend the truth on their resumes, according to a recent survey.

Another U.K.-based survey reports 88% of people with intimate knowledge of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) lie on their resumes to avoid being screened out.

Pants on Fire

So, we know roughly how many people lie to land a job and the current circumstances that have led to more fabrications. Let’s explore where hiring managers can most often find the fib.

The most common resume lies are about education, previous dates of employment, and previous salary.

Other common lies according to include:

  • Exaggerating employee impact numbers
  • Inflating titles
  • Lying about technical abilities
  • Claiming language fluency
  • Using a fake address

Indeed also provides a great explanation of the types of lies candidates most likely tell.

  • Lies of commission are false statements such as lying about where you attended college. 
  • Lies of omission are classified as not telling the full truth, such as stating you completed a college degree but only attended classes there.

Verify the Truth

Now, get ready for a shock. It turns out crafting a misleading resume might actually work (if a company fails to use a comprehensive background check from an internationally accredited provider like EBI).

A new survey of nearly 2,000 people published by a leading resume builder shows 54% of hiring managers agree it’s acceptable to modify your job title on a resume. Forty-three percent also agree that lying about a job title is okay when the title doesn’t reflect an applicant’s actual responsibilities.

We have to admit, we find this information stunning and a little hard to believe. As a leading background check provider who routinely works with our clients to vet candidates, we’ve yet to encounter a hiring manager who willfully foregoes seeking the truth about an applicant. In fact, reference checks, verifications, and credentialing are more important than ever as candidates become increasingly tech-savvy and as more businesses resort to remote hiring.

The Truth Shall Set You Free

Finally, a quick reminder for job applicants. We know it’s tough out there. But your real story – the one that may include being furloughed or temporarily leaving the workforce to homeschool your children or accepting a voluntary layoff or graduating college during a depleted job market – is compelling in its truth. And there are honest ways to get seen.

Hiring managers are working hard to find new ways to attract, recruit, and hire people in this new enterprise climate. Check out our post on how talent acquisition is responding creatively to the coronavirus for tips on new jobs and new recruiting techniques.

For more information on our background check services, including identity checks and education verification, please reach out to one of our EBI experts.

About the Author

Tricia O'Connor

Tricia O'Connor

Writer. Digital marketer. Storyteller. An award-winning writer and editor, Tricia O'Connor is the Marketing Content Manager at EBI. Tricia worked as a broadcast and print journalist for nearly two decades writing and producing programming for high-profile networks like ESPN Radio, History Channel, and Hallmark Channel, as well as contributing editorial work to publications nationwide. Tricia joined the EBI marketing team in 2019 and is responsible for content strategy, development, and engagement. Tricia earned a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is a proud undergraduate alumna of Wheaton College in Massachusetts.

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