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Is Lying on a Resume Ever Okay?

And what can happen if you get caught

Woman writing her resume
Image courtesy of Windows

If you’re wondering if lying on a resume is ever okay, the short answer is no. 

Unfortunately, lying on a resume is pretty common. According to a survey done by CareerBuilder, more than half of HR managers have noticed inconsistent information on a resume. “It’s shocking to me that people lie on their resume, but it happens more than I would expect,” Darcie Collins, CEO of the League to Save Lake Tahoe (Keep Tahoe Blue), explains.

What are people often tempted to lie about on their resumes? 

People embellish various areas of their resume, but surveys show that these are the most common topics that are incorrectly represented on application documents:

  • Embellished skills

  • Embellished responsibilities

  • Dates of employment

  • Job titles

  • Academic degrees

With so many applicants per corporate job opening (as many as 250), the stakes are high, so it can be tempting to overstate your qualifications; however, this will not work in your favor. Even if it does benefit you in the short term (by getting you through to the next step in the application) it will negatively impact you down the road.

What are the potential consequences of lying on your resume?

The most likely result of lying on your resume is that you will get caught and you won’t get the job. 

Collins explains: “If you lie on your resume, you will get caught. We once had a candidate list the League as a previous employer when he was applying for another job. He did not actually work for us, and suffice to say, when the other company called us to confirm, that was an interesting call.”

If you do not disclose criminal records but they come up on your background check, you likely won’t get the job either. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 says you can’t be denied employment based on your criminal record alone, but if it becomes clear that you lied about your criminal history, the employer will take this into account.

Furthermore, depending on what you lie about, there is a risk of people getting physically hurt. If you are applying for a position that requires first aid, CPR, or any other medical training, (i.e., child care, health care, education, etc.) it is crucial that you have the required training. Inadequate training can result in injuries as well as serious legal ramifications for both you and your employer.

Read more: It’s My First Time Negotiating. What Should I Expect?

Is it ever okay to lie on a resume? 


If you find yourself losing out on opportunities for a reason such as location, (i.e. if you’re relocating to an area but don’t currently live there) just leave your location off your resume. If you make it through the next step of the application, clearly communicate that you are relocating to the area.

If you don’t have the required skills needed to apply for a job, take it upon yourself to learn those skills. Instead of lying about skills on your resume, take an online tutorial to familiarize yourself on the topic so you can write “familiar with [skill]” on your resume. This way you are honestly representing yourself on your resume without lying about anything when you apply.

Consider also that you don’t need to meet 100 percent of the required skills on a job application to be considered for the job.

What should you do if you've lied on your resume and already sent it out in applications?

  1. If you lied about having a skill, attempt to learn that skill through a class or tutorial (if possible).

  2. Update your application. In some cases, you may be able to delete your original resume and upload a new one. 

  3. Alternatively, consider emailing your contact to inform them that you noticed some incorrect information and want to provide them with the most updated version of your resume.

  4. If you have lied on your resume and it’s not something that you can adjust or explain, it is best to withdraw your application. 

Read more: 16 Free Resume Templates to Make Writing Easy

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