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What To Do If You’ve Lied On Your Resume

When you land an interview with a company, the deciding factor was probably your resume—specifically, the types of skills and experiences you included on it. But, what if you lied on your resume?


An Estimated 85% Of Resumes Are Inaccurate

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According to HireRight's 2017 employment screening benchmark report, 85% of job applicants lie on resumes. Job seekers change employment dates to gloss over gaps in employment, or they claim to have experience that doesn't stand up to scrutiny. They also claim to have finished training or degrees they'd only started.

People falsify job titles, military service, and salary history, too. The most famous U.S. example is Vice-President Joe Biden. In the 1988 run-up to the presidential elections, his resume misrepresented that he had graduated "in the top half" of law school cohort. He failed in his bid to obtain the Democratic Party nomination for President in that campaign.

Why Do People Lie On Job Applications?

Most job seekers lie on their job applications and resumes because they are worried that they can't get hired based on the facts.

You can get hired with your current qualifications. Have faith—there is a job somewhere out there for you. However, it may not be as grand a role as you'd like if you haven't earned your stripes in the trenches yet. It's important to know your genuine strengths and to leverage them accordingly. It's your job to sell yourself to potential employers in your resume and in your job interview. Lying about qualifications to get ahead faster, though, will only put you in harm's way.

Employers won't always know if you've lied on your resume or are faking your way through a new job. But if they figure it out, you are back to Square One. And you've been fired.

One TV broadcaster in Toronto, Canada, for example, was fired over 10 years after he was hired purely for lying about completing his education. Marilee Jones was an ambitious academic administrator who attained the position of Dean of Admissions at MIT on the false claim of an undergraduate degree that had never been completed. She was promptly fired after the information was discovered. Some companies will go ahead with verifying your employment, find out you've lied, and never tell you. They just won't hire you—and they'll flag you as "Do Not Hire"…ever. Let's avoid that.

What To Do If You've Lied On Your Resume

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So, what can you do if you've lied on your job application or your resume? Do you try to bluff your way through for 10 years or more? On the job application form, did you tell them about your misdemeanor felony conviction—if not, then when? How can you handle this without losing out on the job?

1. Withdraw Your Application

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This is your safest option. Simply call and say you are "withdrawing your application at this time." If asked for a reason, tell them you've "reconsidered your application." That's the truth. They may assume the timing, title, or money isn't right or that you have another offer or you heard something that makes you think it's not the right company for you. That's all okay.

2. Revise Your Resume & Ask Hiring Manager To Refer The New Copy

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In this case, you can tell them you "noticed some errors" and "want to correct them." Note that this won't work if you've created jobs or performance claims that were exaggerated. However, you can truthfully state that you want to be "more exact," if you wish. They may assume you had someone else write your resume and the errors were theirs.

That said, this isn't always going to work.

3. Come Clean

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This may mean you lose out on the job opportunity, but sometimes people have big hearts. There's a good chance they are going to find out about the lie(s) anyway through reference checks or your own social media presence (like LinkedIn).

Provide a corrected resume or job application and tell them the truth. In life, we need to own up to our mistakes and learn from them. Tell them that, too—that you made a mistake and you want to make it right.

It's a sign of good character to do that. People make mistakes, especially under pressure (and needing a job is a lot of pressure). It's best not to end up in this position, but if the deed is done, these are the top three ways of fixing the problem.

How To Avoid The Problem

You can explain gaps and sudden departures from school or a former job in the interview. If you have a criminal record, and that would include any DUI's, be upfront about it or call immediately to tell them you neglected to mention it and would like to "set the record straight." Some things are not automatic barriers to employment—but lying about them may be.

Now is the time to change your resume and social media profiles such as Google+ and LinkedIn, so you never have to worry about this again. Do it today so if your dream job opens up tomorrow, you are polished and ready to stand out to employers on your own merit.


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