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So You Lied on Your Resume…Now What?

Woman looks surprised as she touches growing nose

Oops, you did again. You lied on your resume. The reassuring news is that you’re not alone. More than half of employers (75%, in fact) have caught a lie on a resume. But there’s the rub: Employers have caught the lies. Keep your resume inflated and you will eventually be found out.

What can you do?

Fix it now.

These days, it doesn’t take much to uncover resume lies. Basic background checks can reveal substantial lies like degrees you never earned, schools you never attended, and jobs at companies that never existed. Simple reference checks can uncover smaller lies like performance/results/proficiency claims and inflated titles (like calling yourself a director when you were an assistant). Even quick web searches can reveal plenty of untruths for a hiring manager willing to take five minutes to check out your story.

And don’t think that getting the job means you’re off the hook. Months or even years could go by before someone at your organization uncovers the truth. Not only can you be fired from a job at any time for originally lying on your resume, but you could even face criminal charges for certain lies. For instance, in Texas, it is illegal to use or claim to hold a postsecondary degree you know to be fraudulent, fictitious, or even substandard to obtain employment.

Work it out.

If you’re working with a recruiter, it’s time to confess. Depending on the level of your deceit, the recruiter may be willing to help you clean up your act and keep you going in your job search. If it’s a matter of fudged job dates or inflated proficiencies, the fixes could be simple. For more profound fibs, you may opt to withdraw your application from the jobs you’re being considered for and start fresh.

Then, work with your recruiter to replace the fabrications with a compelling case for hiring you despite that job gap, missing degree, or lack of experience. There are plenty of employers willing to take a chance on someone who fits their culture and has potential but may not have the exact qualifications on their wish list.

Make it true.

Whatever lies you had (or were tempted to have) on your resume are your aspirations. It’s what you want to be true. So why not try to make it happen? Chris Baglieri, currently SVP of Engineering at Blackfynn, once admitted to creating a boldly fabricated resume each year for himself…strictly for pure career development purposes. He didn’t share this version of his resume with employers (this is a crucial point) but used it as a personal challenge to, as he put it, “make that piece of fiction a piece of non-fiction in a year’s time.” Whatever proficiencies, certifications, or strengths you dream up for yourself, why not investigate what it would take to make them true?

The jig is up. Clean up your act and find a way to either work around your weaknesses or turn your lies into truths before you send out that next resume. There’s too much at stake and too much of a likelihood you’ll be found out to continue down that path.

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