A Little White Lie Won’t Hurt On My Resume… Will It?

A Little White Lie Won’t Hurt On My Resume… Will It?

Posted on 17. Mar, 2010 by in Featured, Job Seekers, Resumes and Letters

How many times lately have we heard stories like these:

In 2007, Marilee Jones, called the “most celebrated Admissions Dean in America” resigned from MIT — the reason? A lie on her 1979 job application, fabricating several degrees.

In 2006, David Edmondson stepped down as Radio Shack’s CEO, after he was caught lying about his academic record —again, claiming degrees that he didn’t earn.

Lying on your resume might seem like it will provide rewards–until you are caught– and then the fall-out can be enormous.

Perhaps due to the recent tide of job loss and the surge of healthcare IT, more applicants are being caught lying. Experts estimate that as the economy continues to plummet, the numbers of those lying on job applications will increase. Various sources state that between one-third and one-half of all job applicants lie on their applications, even though in some states, it’s illegal.

What’s more, the employer of a person caught lying on his  or her application can potentially sue the person for losses and expenses incurred. Double yikes!

Just ask Richard Clark about his employment at Coopers Lybrand consulting agency in Canada.  His employers lost several clients when they found out Richard didn’t have any of his three claimed degrees. He paid for his mistake in cash!

According to a study done by Careerbuilder.com, almost all managers who catch a potential hire lying on his resume will automatically cross him off their list of applicants. Nearly half will automatically dismiss him even after he is hired, should such a lie come to light.

And the potential ramifications are even greater than that — once fired for lying on your resume, do you list that job on your resume and have your new boss call and find out the truth, or do you leave it off and just keep lying, hoping that you’re not caught again? It’s a vicious cycle.

More and more managers are doing background checks on employees, so common lies, like claiming a degree that you didn’t earn or inflating your previous title, are more likely to get caught. Another common lie, changing dates to hide gaps in employment, is especially easy to catch.

And the lies aren’t just from the little people. Executives and other high profile personalities are getting caught, too. Laura Callahan lost her senior position in the Department of Homeland Security when her diploma was shown to be a fake in 2004. Experts state that lies about education are often early resume lies that are carried on throughout a career.

In fact, resume-padding has become so popular, not only are there sites dedicated to resume lies, but there are also entities referred to as “degree mills” and “diploma mills” to further aid pretenders in their goals.

So-called “diploma mills” fabricate degrees from real colleges, while “degree mills” refer to colleges that are not accredited (though they may claim to be) and require either no, or substandard, work.

Even a small exaggeration, such as stating that one has already earned a degree or additional informatics training that is still a few months away, can be grounds for automatic dismissal. Is it really worth the risk?

Note: Professional Résumé Services and Healthcare IT Central (HITC) have teamed up to provide powerful resumes for powerful Healthcare IT executives, at exclusive prices only available to HITC members.  If you are not getting calls, it’s most likely your résumé.

Erin Kennedy

Erin Kennedy, CPRW, CERW, BS/HR, is a Certified Professional Resume Writer/Career Consultant, and the President of Professional Resume Services. She is a nationally published writer and contributor of nine best-selling career books.

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2 Responses to “A Little White Lie Won’t Hurt On My Resume… Will It?”

  1. Joe Lavelle

    17. Mar, 2010

    Great post Erin! Honesty is the only policy on resumes! The world is too small not to get caught doing something a stupid as falsifying one’s background!

  2. Angie Pickles

    23. Oct, 2010

    Long time reader / first time poster. Really enjoy reading the blog, keep up the good work. Will definitely start posting more often in the near future.

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