You know that when they call you for an interview, they’ve already decided they want to hire you based on your resume. RELATED: Need to write a resume? Watch these tutorials! But what if you lied on your resume?

An Estimated 50+% Of Resumes Are Inaccurate

People do lie on resumes and job applications. According to U.S. News, they change employment dates to gloss over gaps in employment or they claim to have experience that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. They 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?

Because they are scared they can’t get hired based on the facts. First of all, 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 certainly. It’s definitely important to sell yourself in your resume and your interview. Lying about qualifications to get ahead faster, though, will only put you in harm’s way. People won’t always know if you 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. Only this time 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

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 the job?

1. Withdraw your application.

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 and provide it to the hiring manager, asking them to refer the new copy.

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.

3. Come clean.

This may mean you lose the job, but sometimes people have big hearts. There’s a good chance they are going to find out 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 DUIs, be straight from now on whenever asked or call immediately to tell them you ‘neglected’ to mention it and would like to ‘set the record straight.' They are going to find out anyway and it is not a guaranteed barrier to employment- whereas lying about it may be. And 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 perfect. This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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Targeted resumes (customized resumes) get interviews and get jobs. Would you use the same resume to apply for both a teaching position and an office job? You’d better not if you want a decent shot at getting an interview. Related: Why Resume Templates Are Job Search Killers A customized resume is one that is tailored to a specific job. You’d start with your resume template and strategically customize it to feature the skills and accomplishments that best match the typical job description for the job you want.

Why Custom Tailor A Resume At All?

Why? Because many companies don’t immediately read your resume anymore. Instead, they file it with the other 700 resumes they received and feed it through a computer filter called an Applicant Tracking System, which only looks for ‘keywords.' This system excludes resumes that don’t contain keywords matching the job posting and spits out the resumes of applicants whose resume language closely matches the job skills required.

Think You Can Game the System?

ATS technology is getting smarter every day - keywords in a block of text dumped into the resume at the end will be ignored. The filters look for ‘context.' That is, these filters want to see those keywords used with and near other relevant words. In other words, the system cannot be gamed. Also, real, live people still read many resumes - and they are open to being impressed and persuaded. A good resume makes the employer want to hire you based on your resume - that’s the reason they call you in for an interview (to make sure you are as impressive in person).

Start With Your Resume Template

Your existing resume will act as the template for each custom/targeted resume. We are then going to take the keywords used in the job posting and work them into your resume. Your resume template is your master copy. It includes your name, but not your address (particularly if you are applying out of town), your nice, polite Gmail address, and your phone number. Then, you'll create blank sections you’ll label privately as “Professional Title" and “Summary." Your Summary is for your Featured Skills, followed by your relevant credentials. This is followed by your last 10-12 years of employment history (Job title with dates) in chronological order from the most recent to oldest. Designate any employment gaps of more than a year with an appropriate title and date range:
  • 2011-2012 Furthering Education
  • 2011-2012 Travel
  • 2008 Seeking Employment
  • 2008 Volunteering
  • 2003-2005 Family Care
  • 2003-2005 Military Service
Don’t panic about gaps in employment just explain them briefly, if asked, in the interview.

Additional Notes:

A series of short-term jobs can be grouped together as “Temporary Work," “Part-time Work,” or “Contract Work” depending on the facts. Never lie on your resume - nothing is a guaranteed barrier to employment but lying would be. Also see my article, “What To Do If You Lied On Your Resume." Then, Volunteering, Military Service details, Honors, and Certifications can follow.


Ask yourself for each job, “What did I accomplish in this job that no one else would have done?” These accomplishments are VERY important. We are going to make an effort to use them with keywords tailored to each job application. You’re going to mention these accomplishments in the interview, too, so write them down!

How To Customize A Target Resume

Keep in mind that each of your target resumes should be tailored to a specific job or type of work. Starting with your master resume, here's how to convert it into a target resume:

1. Copy Keywords From Job Descriptions

Read the job description (noting the position title) then copy the whole thing into a separate document. Do a search for six other job descriptions that use the same title (search the web or an online job site). Copy these entirely into the same separate document. Finally, you can opt to check the free US Department of Labor Statistics’ free download, the “Occupational Outlook Handbook" since it happens to contain common job descriptions for US occupations that you can use in your job description collection (copy and paste the relevant job description to your list).

2. Determine Which Keywords Make The Most Appearances

These job descriptions contain words in common – KEYWORDS, words relating to THREE categories:
  1. Education
  2. Experience
  3. Skills/certifications
You are going to create a “tag cloud," also known as a “word cloud,” using any online tag cloud generator ( or work very well). These word clouds make the most commonly used words in the descriptions leap off the page. You will know exactly what skills, experience, and position titles are demanded by the position. Copy a list of the TOP 10-20 keywords that relate to the job you want in this situation.

3. Add The Keywords To Your Resume

Take the experience, credentials, and education identified by the tag clouds and include them in your resume. Input the Job Title in your template, then in the Summary section at the top of your resume you should include keyword transferable skills that relate to this role.

4. Capture The Keywords In Your Accomplishment Statements

Write your accomplishment statements to capture some of the keywords. This is what makes you the perfect candidate for this job! These statements should reflect skills that are your strengths and only skills that you want to use again. Be sure to repeat each skill listed in the Summary section in the section discussing your work history so that there is emphasis on your specialty in that area. That’s it! Make sure you are writing for real people in spite of the potential of ATS screening. Use the Job Title from the job description.

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They left a voicemail yesterday afternoon asking for an interview this morning. This means they’d like to hire you based on your resume. So, how do you keep that chance alive with a great interview? Related: 8 Simple Interview Questions To Ask Hiring Managers Is it time to panic? No- prepping is EASY.

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