Lie on a Resumé and You May Lose More Than a Job
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The Fiscal Times
August 7, 2014

Have you ever claimed on your resumé to be the assistant to the prime minister of a foreign country – though that country doesn’t have a prime minister?

Or maybe you included some amazing job experience on your resumé that was actually your dad’s – thinking it wouldn’t be a big deal since you both have the same name.

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These two examples are among the most memorable resumé lies ever caught by employers, according to a CareerBuilder’s survey released first thing Thursday.

More than half the employers surveyed, or 58 percent, said they’ve caught a lie on a job applicant’s resumé. Today, with the job market recovering at a slower pace than expected, resumé fraud is only getting worse. Thirty-three percent of hiring managers said that more job applicants are lying about their credentials now than before the recession.

Some of the most common lies are related to embellished skill sets, embellished job responsibilities, wrong dates of employment, or outright false claims of academic achievement.

Meanwhile, some industries report a higher rate of lies on resumés than others – including financial services, leisure and hospitality, and information technology.

More than half of hiring managers, or 51 percent, said they would automatically dismiss a candidate if they caught the person lying on a resumé, while 7 percent said they’d be willing to overlook the lie if they liked the candidate enough.

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Increasingly – and thanks to the Internet – companies are also catching lies after people have been vetted and hired. Some high-profile people are among them.

Last year, Elizabeth O’Bagy, a Syria researcher whose Wall Street Journal op-ed was cited during congressional hearings about the use of force, was fired from the Institute for the Study of War for lying about having a Ph.D.

In 2012, Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson was ousted after only four months on the job when it was discovered he’d added a fake computer science degree to the academic credentials on his resumé.

Last June, the basketball coach of Manhattan College was finally reinstated after he was caught lying on his resuméabout having a degree from the University of Kentucky. He told The New York Post, “Nothing I say can justify what happened. I am deeply sorry for what happened, because people were hurt. My players, Manhattan College, my staff, South Florida, fans, alumni, so many people were hurt by an irresponsible decision I made at 22 years old.”

“If you want to enhance your resumé, it’s better to focus on playing up tangible examples from your actual experience,” Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, said in a press release. “Your resumé doesn’t necessarily have to be the perfect fit for an organization, but it needs to be relevant and accurate.”

Harris Poll surveyed more than 2,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals online for CareerBuilder between May 13 and June 6.

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Marine Cole has been covering finance and business for a decade and has written for publications that include The Wall Street Journal, Crain's New York Business, and AdvertisingAge.