Lying on your resume will come back to bite you

By Robert Half December 11, 2014 at 9:32pm

The recent case of Andrew Flanagan, who duped the Myer retail chain into giving him an executive position only to be sacked on the first day, is a lesson for us all. Lying on your resume, or in a job interview, is a perilous endeavour.

“Oh come on, everyone does it,” says Jack Rabbit (not a real person), the inveterate resume writer.

It seems Jack isn’t alone in his views. Research suggests that up to 53 per cent of resumes contain “falsifications” designed to embellish the truth in the applicant’s favour. Fake qualifications, padded pay packets, inflated responsibilities, imaginary awards, forged references and dodgy dates show up on employers’ desks on a daily basis.

The cost of exaggerating your skills

Your resume is your personal brochure, and it should show you in your best light. A little exaggeration is harmless, right?

Well, no. Lying on your resume or in a job interview isn’t quite like putting on makeup or dressing to impress. It’s actually a criminal act of fraud designed to mislead people into trusting you with the wellbeing of their business – and it carries risks.

Getting caught is serious, and not getting caught is hard to do in today’s connected world. Once you’ve been discovered, your job is almost certainly over. What employer would continue to trust and employ someone who has deceived them? Obtaining a job through deception is valid grounds for instant dismissal. If you’ve cost your employer money (and you probably have), it may even be grounds for legal action.

That’s only the tip of the iceberg. The blow to your reputation and termination can haunt you for years, or even force you out of the industry. It can also have a negative contagion effect. If you were caught because the company checked a reference who didn’t back up your claims, you most likely lost that referee’s support too.

It’s easy to get caught

It’s hard to get away with lying. These days, just about every professional has a LinkedIn profile. There are also many other digital footprints you leave across the internet. All it takes is for one person to stumble across the wrong piece of information to bring you unstuck.

Another thing to consider is the on-the-job consequences. You will be expected to deliver on the skills and abilities you claim to have. Not doing so is a sure giveaway that you haven’t been entirely honest.

Background checks are becoming more frequent

The truth is that falsification seems to be on the rise, possibly in response to recent economic fluctuations. To counter this, employers and recruitment agencies report having increased their diligence on doing background checks. The chances of getting caught have never been greater.

Sir Walter Scott once wrote, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive!” It’s as true now as it was back then. Lies aren’t something you have to tell once – they need to be maintained over time. Sooner or later, most people slip up. The short-term gain rarely outweighs the long-term losses.

When it comes to job hunting, honesty really is the best policy. Do you have any stories about applicant ‘furphies’?

You can read more on how to get through the interview and avoid losing the offer once you’ve got it.

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