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Lying on Resumes … Topic Never Gets Old

Excellent story in the Wall Street Journal about being truthful on your resume. (I am always thrilled to be quoted!)

Key point: Don’t lie.

My take: Most people distort the truth because they are insecure about their credentials, scared they won’t get a job, and convinced every other candidate has a perfect slate of qualifications.

Solution: Really believe in your own value! Know what you’ve done, what you have to offer, and how you will benefit your next employer. If you do have a challenging issue – e.g., no college degree, large gaps in employment, desire to change industries or change careers – accept the fact that traditional applications (online postings) are not the way to go. Focus on networking, personal contacts, targeted search. Make your case with power and passion! The credentials (or lack thereof) take a back seat to the knowledge, value, and insight you offer.


  1. Sarah Cooper says:

    You are so right. I can’t get over how many people believe that lying on your resume is acceptable. Its like we group lies into different levels as if by grouping them some are ‘better’ than others. We like to white wash, gloss over, don’t sweat the small stuff etc. The white lie doesn’t hurt anyone right? Well lying on your resume only hurts yourself. 9 times out of 10 out of the candidates I come across, the untruth on the resume is trivial, but if uncovered the fact that they lied in most cases too difficult to get over.

  2. Louise says:

    Hi, Sarah – yes, very astute comment … the lie is trivial but the reaction to it is not. And, as I noted, I find that it usually stems from a deep insecurity about the candidate’s ability to get a job with this enormous perceived flaw.

    That’s why resume writing is such satisfying work! After clients work with us, they see themselves anew through our eyes and can really appreciate their value … what they have, not what they don’t have.

  3. Louise says:

    And even the smartest people can be clueless … Here’s a story from a colleague who is nameless to protect her friend’s identity!

    “I have done one of my best friend’s resumes for years.

    I’ve always admired her, even using her as a role model. She’s a working mom who managed to obtain an MS and PhD in psychology since I’ve known her. 
Well, in her most recent job hunt, the employer red-flagged her Ph.D. and she was not called for her promised second interview. When I questioned her about the issue, she replied, 

”Do you think it’s because I didn’t finish paying the school off on my educational loan.” 

I further inquired, “Well, did they present you your diploma?” She said, “Not exactly … It was contingent on paying off the loan before graduation.” 

    OMG!!!! She’s been interviewing most of 2009-2010, often getting second interviews but no offers. I advised her to remove all references to Ph.D. from her resume.”

  4. Ross says:

    It’s true that lying on resumes is not acceptable. However, I believe that majority of those who do lie because the scarcity of jobs in this unstable economy. It’s a matter of survival. Politicans do lie or embellished their creditentials to get a head, you see it all of the time in the media. If I’m planning to lie, or embellish, my resume(s), I do it for survival. Honesty on resumes sometimes don’t necessarily get you a job.

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