Is it OK to lie on a resume?

Resume mistakes survey

No matter what the reason or justification for lying, you jeopardize your future when you lie about your past.

Lying or embellishing on your resume is a bad idea for many reasons – most obviously because you’re likely to get caught. Still, that’s not stopping candidates. A recent survey from CareerBuilder shows that 3 in 4 HR managers report having caught a lie on a resume, and only 12 percent of HR managers are more likely to consider calling a candidate that does something unusual or outrageous in for an interview.

Perhaps the need to stand out comes from wanting to make every second count. Among human resource managers, who are typically the gatekeepers of which applicants get in front of the actual hiring managers, 39 percent said they spend less than a minute initially looking at a resume. Nearly 1 in 5 (19 percent) spend less than 30 seconds.

Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, offers this advice: “If crafted well, your resume is one of the most valuable marketing tools you have. In a matter of seconds, it can make or break your chances of moving along the hiring journey with a company. That’s why it’s important to be proactive with your resume and avoid embellishments or mistakes. Take advantage of the tools available to you — the worst thing you can do is send a generic copy out to employers and then sit and hope for a response.”

Outrageous resume mistakes
In the survey, HR managers and hiring managers shared their most notable real-life examples of resume blunders, including:

  • An applicant claimed to have written computer code the hiring manager had actually written. Both had the same previous job, but the applicant did not know that fact.
  • Applicant included a picture with all of his pets.
  • Applicant said he worked for Microsoft but had no idea who Bill Gates was.
  • Applicant's resume was lifted from the Internet, did not match the cover letter.
  • Applicant said he studied under Nietzsche.
  • Applicant stated that he had tried and failed a certification exam three times, but was planning to try again.
  • Applicant claimed to be an anti-terrorist spy for the CIA at the same time period he was in elementary school.

How to get the interview

A proactive approach to your job search can improve your chances of landing interviews. Here are five things that HR managers say make them more likely to pay attention to an application:

  • Resume has been customized to their open position: 60 percent
  • A cover letter is included with the resume: 38 percent
  • Skill sets are listed first on the resume: 37 percent
  • Application is addressed to the specific hiring manager: 23 percent
  • Resume includes a link to a candidate's blog, portfolio or website: 14 percent

Additionally, five factors that would make them more likely to hire one candidate over the other:

  • The candidate is involved in his/her community: 35 percent
  • The candidate is bilingual: 34 percent
  • The candidate has a better sense of humor: 25 percent
  • The candidate is better dressed: 24 percent
  • The candidate has more in common with them: 13 percent

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