Why You Should Never Lie on Your Resume

You should absolutely never lie on your resume. It’s career advice you’ve heard time and time again. But, some people have different definitions of what exactly constitutes lying on a career document. Is it only something as blatant as claiming that you’re a world-renowned brain surgeon when you only just graduated from college—with your degree in journalism?

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No, it’s not quite always that stark and obvious. Things like leaving out important pieces of information and embellishing the truth all count as being deceptive as well.

Sure, it’s not on the same level as completely making something up. However, it’s still something you want to stay far, far away from when it comes to drafting your resume. Why? Well, here are three very convincing reasons you should absolutely never lie on your resume.

1. It’s Just Plain Dishonest

Let’s start with the biggest, most obvious reason first, shall we? Padding or lying on your resume is just plain deceitful.

Remember when your parents and teachers would always remind you that, “Honesty is the best policy”? Well, that sentiment doesn’t change just because you’re technically an adult now. They’re still great words to live by—particularly when it comes to job hunting.

I know that it’s tempting to add in a quick line that asserts you’re a Photoshop expert or a bullet point that claims you have extensive sales experience—after all, what could only a few untrue words hurt? But, believe me, you’re always better off resisting temptation and ensuring that your resume is completely, undeniably, 100% factual. It might not seem like it at the time, but honesty really is always better for you in the long run.

2. It Gets You Nowhere

So, let’s say you didn’t heed all of that good-intentioned advice, and you decided to lie on your resume anyway. And, it worked! You not only scored an interview, but you also landed the job. See? Lying pays off.

Not exactly. On your resume, you listed that you were a complete whiz at sorting and managing Excel databases. Macros, formulas, and tons of other fancy Excel jargon—you claimed you knew it all. And, when asked about it in the interview, you nodded along and stuck with the story you told on your resume. After all, you weren’t going to admit to lying right then and there—that’s a surefire way to not get the job.

So, your deception landed you this gig, and you’re muddling through your first week of work. One morning, your boss emails you an absolutely massive Excel spreadsheet—with thousands and thousands of lines of data—and simply asks you to do what you do best.

Well, now what? You have no idea how to complete this project, and you can’t very well ask for guidance, since you insisted that you were the know-it-all. You’re stuck either owning up to your lie anyway (and likely losing your job), or spending hours and hours researching how to pull this off—meaning the project will take you way longer than it should, whcih definitely won’t help your professional reputation either.

Do you see where I’m going with this? Even if lying on your resume does indeed land you the job, you’re still going nowhere fast. Why? Quite simply, you don’t actually have the skills required to fulfill that position. Remember, the truth always comes out—and it really won’t take long for your superiors to recognize you conned your way into that role.

3. You’re Cheating Yourself

If you only want to think selfishly, it’s important to remember that lying on your resume means you’re really only cheating yourself. “But, how?” you’re probably wondering, “Padding my information only makes me more likely to land that job—that’s a good thing!”

Sure, like I mentioned above, maybe you will pull off the whole Catch Me If You Can scheme and get the job. But, ask yourself this: If you needed to lie in order to get that position, is it something that you’re even actually qualified for?

By being deceptive in order to get the foot in the door, you’re really just cheating yourself out of opportunities that are actually a good fit for you—you know, the ones that are looking for your exact skills, qualifications, and experience. You’re passing up jobs that would’ve greatly benefited from your knowledge in order to feel swamped and overwhelmed in a role that was never truly suited to be yours to begin with.

Believe me, I know the job hunt can get frustrating. And, adding a few embellishments and exaggerations to your resume can seem like small potatoes in the grand scheme of things. After all, how can it be bad if it helps you land the job?

But, it’s important to resist the urge to pad your resume and commit yourself to being completely truthful and forthright. It’s just another instance of your parents and teachers actually having some sound advice—honesty really is the best policy.

Written by

Kat is a Wisconsin-based freelance writer covering topics related to careers, self-development, and entrepreneurship. Her byline has appeared in numerous outlets and publications, including Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, QuickBooks, Business Insider, and more. Find out more about her on her website, or connect with her on Twitter.

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