According to research, one in 10 people surveyed has lied or embellished the truth on their resume, cover letter, or LinkedIn profile to help them get a job at a different company.
Yet, if job seekers or workers get caught lying about their professional credentials, it can result in serious consequences, including being fired from a job or not hired for an opportunity.
The 2019 research findings from Blind were based on responses from more than 10,000 people from 17 different companies. The survey focused on workers in the technology industry and resulted in over 1,000 respondents from various tech firms, including Amazon, Facebook, Uber, Google, and Microsoft, stating that the following statement was true:
I have embellished or lied on my LinkedIn or resume/CV to help land another job.
SAP, Amazon, Cisco, and PayPal topped the list of companies that had the most employees who admitted to this type of career-related lying (at 12.5%, 11.57%, and 10.78% of employees, respectively). Salesforce had the fewest employees who said that they lied on their resume or LinkedIn, at just 2.83%.
Why Job Applicants Lie
According to Blind, when people lie on their resume, it’s often related to their age, academic degrees, technical abilities, or even their criminal records. Interview situations seem to generate a different set of lies about the job candidate’s references, previous salaries, and full work history.
This isn’t the first study that has documented a percentage of the job search population as lying—and it isn’t just a tech industry phenomenon. In 2017, HireRight published an employment screening benchmark report that found a surprising 85% of employers caught job applicants in the act of lying on their job applications or resumes—an increase from 66% in the five years prior.
In an article from Inc. magazine, J.T. O’Donnell speculated on reasons why job seekers might feel compelled to lie even during times when unemployment rates are low, noting that applicant tracking systems—in which applicants must enter their details in a very specific format on the company’s website—may be part of what’s behind the increasing trend. “Job seekers have gotten wise to the finicky nature of the technology and are lying on their resumes and applications in hopes of making the cut,” O’Donnell wrote.
Why Lying on Your Resume Isn’t Wise
Regardless of how compelling your reason might be to stretch the truth during the application process, it’s not wise to fib to a potential employer about your background and/or credentials. While you may think that you’re getting away with your story in the short-term, employers have multiple ways at getting at the truth, which include (as O’Donnell points out):
- Online background checks, which employers can purchase to confirm everything from past employers for whom you’ve worked to your salary history and criminal records. Many employers require a background check during the hiring process.
- Calling people not on your reference list. While most employers will request that you provide a list of professional and/or personal references to validate your performance and character, not all recruiters or managers will stick to your list. As O’Donnell explains: “Some recruiters research and secretly contact ex-colleagues of a candidate to inquire about his or her performance. Their goal is to speak to someone NOT recommended to them by the candidate, since most references have been coached to say only good things.”
- Interview grilling. Using interview techniques such as behavioral interviewing, hiring teams may try to throw you off by drilling down into questions that require extensive detail of past experiences to answer. If you falter or can’t justify the claimed experiences with concrete examples, then the gig is up.
Be Honest, Be Professional
As you can see, lying during the hiring process is a risky business. If you’re caught in the act, it goes without saying that you won’t get the job that you want. Worse yet, your failure to tell the truth could affect your professional credibility with other employers and recruiters as well, since they may network and share their experiences.
So, instead of making something up on your resume, job application, LinkedIn profile, or during an interview, just do the right thing: come clean about your work history and background to have the best chance of getting that offer.
Written by Robin Madell
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