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The most ludicrous lies told on resumes

Written by Workopolis
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What’s the worst thing you can do in a job interview?

Lie, according to a survey by Express Employment Professionals, which found that 79% of those at the staffing firm said lying about experience was the worst offense a candidate could commit in the interview.

But a lot of people still do it, in the interview and on resumes.

Also, this week, Career Builder has released the results of a survey in which hiring managers list the most memorable lies candidates have told on resumes.

The report shows that 58% of hiring managers and HR professionals said they have caught a lie on a resume, and one third (33%) of these employers have seen an increase in resume “embellishments” in the aftermath of recession.

What this means: people are more desperate for jobs and willing to lie to get them.

Now here’s something interesting: Half of employers (51%) said that they would automatically dismiss a candidate if they caught a lie on his/her resume, but 40% actually said it would depend on what the candidate lied about, and 7% said they’d be willing to overlook a lie if they liked the candidate. This makes a total of nearly half of employers who would not dismiss a candidate outright for a resume lie.

Do the different survey results mean there is a vast difference between lying in an interview and lying on your resume? Probably not. It just depends on who you ask about it.

Unfortunately, Career Builder doesn’t list the lies employers are willing to overlook. They do list the most common lies, though.

The most common resume lies

    Embellished skill set – 57 percent
    Embellished responsibilities – 55 percent
    Dates of employment – 42 percent
    Job title – 34 percent
    Academic degree – 33 percent
    Companies worked for – 26 percent
    Accolades/awards – 18 percent

Respondents also shared the most memorable lies they have come across.

The most memorable resume lies

    Applicant included job experience that was actually his father’s. Both father and son had the same name (one was Sr., one was Jr.).

    Applicant claimed to be the assistant to the prime minister of a foreign country that doesn’t have a prime minister.

    Applicant claimed to have been a high school basketball free throw champion. He admitted it was a lie in the interview.

    Applicant claimed to have been an Olympic medalist.

    Applicant claimed to have been a construction supervisor. The interviewer learned the bulk of his experience was in the completion of a doghouse some years prior.

    Applicant claimed to have 25 years of experience at age 32.

    Applicant claimed to have worked for 20 years as the babysitter of known celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Madonna, etc.

    Applicant listed three jobs over the past several years. Upon contacting the employers, the interviewer learned that the applicant had worked at one for two days, another for one day, and not at all for the third.

    Applicant applied to a position with a company who had just terminated him. He listed the company under previous employment and indicated on his resume that he had quit.

    Applicant applied twice for the same position and provided different work history on each application.

As cliché as it is, this really is one of those cases where honesty is the best policy…for the most part. There are lies you actually should tell in the job interview, though these are of a different variety, and pertain to strategic communication – and things that can’t be verified in a simple background check. They include “I liked everyone at my previous job” and “My former boss was the best.”

As my colleague Peter Harris explains, you don’t want to lie about your actual abilities. “The last thing you want to do is find yourself getting a job that you can’t actually do. That would be a waste of your time, the employer’s time and would only end up burning bridges for you and hurting your professional reputation.”

To read more about the lies you should tell, read: The five lies you should probably tell to potential employers.

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