It’s a great feeling when you’ve been searching for a job and you finally find one you think you would love.
There’s only one tiny problem: you don’t exactly have all the required skills the employer needs.
So what do you do? You embellish your resumé a bit, adding in some details and skills that you don’t really have or even adding in a degree you never completed. At least, that’s what many managers think job seekers do.
According to an OfficeTeam survey, 47% of managers believe job seekers include dishonest information on their resumés “somewhat or very often” and 44% said they personally know someone who lied or exaggerated. The areas that applicants embellish most frequently are job duties and education.
We’ve all been tempted to embellish or lie on our resumés to land a coveted job. It’s easy to immediately come up with a list of excuses for why we had to do what we did, but in reality, lying on your resumé not only hurts your employer – it hurts you too.
Here are the top 5 reasons you should never lie (or even embellish) on your resumé:
1. Employers will do some research and know you’re lying
It only takes a few minutes for employers to do a couple background checks. “In this digital age, information is more accessible compared to five years ago. Employers will do reference checks and online searches to make sure the information is accurate,” said Shelley Robinson, Branch Manager of OfficeTeam, “ and any inconsistencies can lead to you not being hired.”
2. You’ll have the job, but you still won’t have the right skills
When employers hire you, they do so on the basis that your resumé is an honest representation of everything you have done in the past and the skills you have acquired. If you don’t have those skills, you’re not right for the role and you won’t be helping the company achieve its goals.
You may think you’re perfect for the role, but your employer will soon realize you can’t do your job and you’ll be asked to leave.
3. You’ll land a job you don’t even want
You’ve convinced yourself it’s your dream job so you embellish on your resumé to get it. It won’t take long for you to realize that the role doesn’t fit you and you’ve signed yourself up for a couple months or years of a job you don’t enjoy doing. Now you’re stuck in a job you don’t know how to do and you can’t ask for help since you claimed to have those skills.
4. It will jeopardize your career
It won’t take long for your employer to realize the job doesn’t fit you and you’ll be stuck trying to explain to future employers why you were let go. They won’t be impressed to hear that you were dishonest and you can forget about asking that employer for a reference.
Many companies in the same industry know each other, so if you lie to one employer, word may spread about your unethical ways.
5. You’ll probably be unhappy
Most people spend the majority of their waking hours at their job, so it’s ideal if you enjoy what you’re doing. If you lie on your resumé and end up in a role you are not comfortable doing, you’ll most likely feel frustrated with your assigned tasks, feel incompetent and spend time worrying your employer will discover what you did.
Save yourself the worry and disappointment and tell the truth from the beginning.
Alternatives to lying and embellishing
Instead of embellishing the truth to cover up gaps in employment and poor employment history, Shelley recommends that job seekers try a “combination resumé” which highlights key accomplishments and skills instead of a chronological resumé. She also suggests that applicants simply acknowledge there are gaps.
“If you have a gap in employment, you can list instead the things you did during that period, such as volunteer work, learning a new language or even travelling. In many industries, that’s valuable experience too. Pull the positive aspects from any experience you had.”
The best way to avoid embellishments is to have a discussion with your manager before leaving your job to discuss the contributions you made and your job duties. “A lot of people don’t think to have that discussion,” said Shelley. “Ask your manager what he/she feels comfortable with in terms of what you will put on your resumé. If you were an intern, you can even ask if you can put a specific title instead of that.”