Should you lie on your resume if you’re too overqualified?

By Robert Half 26 November 2019

Despite our ageing society, it can be challenging for mature age workers to secure good jobs.

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, four in five (79%) people aged 55-plus have difficulty finding work, and many face a more protracted job search than younger candidates.

So, should you lie on your resume to get a job – especially if you believe you’re overqualified for a role?

The answer is a resounding ‘no’. No matter how much you want the job, turning your resume into a cheat sheet is not the solution.

Should you lie on your resume? Definitely not

It makes sense to tailor a resume to suit individual roles. But fabricating academic achievements, falsifying professional qualifications or even gilding the lily on employment histories is a very different matter. There’s a strong likelihood that you’ll get caught out, and that’s not just because of the near-certainty that a hiring manager will conduct reference checks.

You could give yourself away with a simple slip-up during a job interview. A quick review by a hiring manager of your LinkedIn profile or other social media can reveal your true background, skills and experience.

In addition, we all leave a wake of digital information behind us. It just needs a hiring manager to come across seemingly minor details online that conflict with your resume, and questions are likely to be asked.

The stakes are too high to lie

When you lie on your resume, you not only tarnish your personal brand, you also raise questions in a hiring manager’s mind about how honest you’re being about other aspects of yourself and your career.

Any hint of dishonesty destroys the sense of trust that is essential between employee and employer. Put simply, lying on your resume could see your aspirations for a role cut short very quickly.

The good news is that there are other strategies that you can use to put yourself in the running for a job, regardless of whether you feel you are overqualified for the position.

Here are four strategies worth considering.

1. Acknowledge the situation

If you believe you’re overqualified, acknowledge this, and outline why you’re applying for the role – a search for new challenges or different work arrangements to fit your changing lifestyle are perfectly acceptable. It’s better to offer a plausible reason upfront than to leave an employer second-guessing.

2. Highlight opportunities for personal growth

Let the hiring manager know that you see opportunities in the role – a chance to work in a new industry, explore fresh projects or bring your skills to new products/services. This can offset a sense of being overqualified in the eyes of the hiring manager.

3. Demonstrate your value-add

Don’t be ashamed of the wealth of professional experience you have accumulated. Use your resume to showcase how your skills and experience can be of value to the company.

4. Be prepared to compromise

If you are overqualified for a role, be prepared for some give and take. Perks and remuneration often go hand-in-hand with seniority of title, and being overqualified can mean taking a step back on some of these benefits. If you are open to compromise on aspects of your employment package you have a far better chance of securing the role.

The job market can be tough for mature age workers. But you need to work with the situation, not against it. Don’t dismiss roles on the assumption you are too skilled – a wealth of opportunities can become available once you’re part of the company team.

Should you lie on your resume? No – it’s a temptation that you should always resist. With perseverance and a carefully structured resume, you are well-placed to land a rewarding role with your personal reputation intact. You may not be able to replicate previous positions you’ve held but you will be in the workforce, and from there, new doors can open.

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