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The Truth About Lying On Your Resume

job applicationHuman Resources manager Liz Ryan recently published a piece in Forbes titled “The Truth About Lying On Your Resume”. Here, she shares the frustrations that arise every time she extends a job offer only to find that the candidate’s background check doesn’t quite square up. The most common issue is falsifying one’s educational credentials: a job-seeker tells the employer that he or she graduated from college, but then the registrar’s office says they have no record of that person.

As Ryan explains, “Those situations depressed me because I couldn’t believe someone would be that stupid. Don’t they know we’re going to check on the educational background they reported?” In fact, the confirmation is printed right on the application above the candidate’s signature, where we check a box indicating that we “give permission to verify all information provided herein.”

Yet Ryan goes on to explain that managers do not take a fine-toothed comb to every aspect of a resume. For example, Ryan does not verify past salaries: “I think it’s horrendous to pry into someone’s personal finances. Are we, on the other side of the desk, going to pull out our financial statements and share them with job applicants?”

And in fact, most of the falsification on resumes relates to education, although people also change the facts about work history as well. Ryan claims that she doesn’t really care that much about dates, and she certainly doesn’t get hung up when a person is a few months off in listing the starting date or ending date for a particular position. What real difference does that make?

It’s when people completely fabricate companies or organizations they claim to have worked for – even saying they worked there for years – only to find that there is no record of the company ever existing in either the database for the Secretary of State or in any local business listings.

To make matters worse, the job applicant is unable to provide any references for those 5 or 7 years of work. “Can you show us something that at least makes clear that the company existed?” Ryan explains asking. “Anything at all — an internal memo, a policy handbook, a timesheet?” But no, the candidate has not a single scrap of evidence.

Ryan reminds us that it’s foolish to invent a degree or a previous employer to make a resume seem more impressive. Not every hiring manager may share the conviction that who you are is more important than what you’ve done, but falsifying a resume is never a good option!

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Emery Reddy