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Lying on a Resume Can Lead to Prison

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What’s the worst that can happen when you lie on your resume? How about prison time? An Australian woman was recently sentenced to 25 months in prison for lying about her credentials to get a job.

Veronica Hilda Theriault was found to have used deception, dishonesty, and abuse of public office when securing a $185k job with the Australian government. Among other lies, she included false information about her education and experience on her CV, impersonated a work reference, and even used a photo of model Kate Upton as her LinkedIn profile image.

The lies resulted in jail time because the government position she secured allowed her to access sensitive information. Can the same happen in the U.S.? It’s possible, depending on the lie, the job, and where you live. In Texas, it’s illegal to lie about a postsecondary degree to obtain a job, promotion, clients or similar work benefits. If found guilty, you could be slapped with $2,000 in fines and six months in prison.

At the very least, you’ll be fired or asked to resign, which can damage your career immensely. Senior Trump administration official Mina Chang recently resigned from her post after an investigation found evidence she embellished her work history and educational achievements. Her claims to be a Harvard Business School “alumna,” to have addressed both the Democratic and Republican national conventions in 2016, and even to have been on the cover of Time magazine are said to be false. Plenty of high-profile incidents, including one involving ex-Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson, prove that the professional consequences of lying about your education and background can be devastating. 

But what if you don’t get caught?

“That’s unlikely,” says Craig Patterson, The HT Group’s Director of Professional & Technical Services. “Background checks are becoming more advanced and easier to conduct. Plus, hiring managers and recruiters can uncover a multitude of sins by conducting a simple online search or by comparing a resume to a LinkedIn profile. Once a lie like a fictitious degree is unearthed, there’s no recovering from it. It’s a telltale sign you’ll be willing to bend the truth in other areas as well, which is a risk no reputable employer wants to take.”

There have been reports of staffing firms, recruiters, and career coaches helping job candidates falsify their credentials to get jobs. Some will even hire professionals to complete phone interviews for job candidates. Patterson’s take?

“Don’t fall for it,” he warns. “Responsible recruiters won’t ask you or help you to lie to employers. Their reputations—and the trust they’ve built up with their clients—is, frankly, more important to them than helping you lie your way into a job.”

Do you have questions about background checks and how to frame your credentials in a way that highlights your qualifications without bending the truth? Ask your HT Group recruiter for help.

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