“I lied on my resume and got the job.” If this is you, I'm guessing you are wondering what could happen to you or to your job. To put it bluntly, lying on your resume can have various consequences, such as harming your credibility and reputation. If your employer knows that your resume does not contain accurate information, most organizations will fire you immediately.
It seems obvious but I must say it anyway: lying on your resume is harmful. Even if you have got the job, your employer can rerun a background check, validate job experience, or verify education. And guess what happens if they find anything suspicious? You will face problems.
Many high-level managers and executives have lost their jobs and harmed their professional reputations all because their employers caught them. Back to my original statement of if you are thinking: I lied on my resume and got the job. You may consider yourself lucky, but you will experience issues. Let's take a deeper look together.
Most Common Resume Lies
Career Builder did a study back in 2018 that showed over 75% of employers have caught prospective and existing employees lying on their resumes. People who lie on their resumes are guilty and will inevitably be found out. And I'm sure some of you will instantly disagree and believe that you are the exception, and that your lie on your resume will never be detected. And that's ok because, again, the truth will inevitably surface.
A different survey done by Career Builder back in 2015 showed the following: The most common lies in resumes are skill sets (62%), responsibilities (54%), employment dates (39%), job titles (31%), and educational qualifications (28%). Because employers and recruiters often consider skills, experience, and responsibilities in candidates’ resumes, these are the common areas where most people lie.
Consequences of lying your way into a job
Telling a lie to misrepresent yourself will not last forever. Employers are going to find out. The problem with lying on your resume (just like with most lies) is that when your employer detects conflicting information you will have to make the choice to come clean and tell the truth or continue on with your original lie. If you decide not to tell the truth you will have to continue to lie by either embellishing the original lie or tell a different lie.
So when an employer believes that you've lied, they are going to question you about it. Again, “I lied on my resume and got the job” may be a statement you are proud of but there will be various consequences. Allow me to explain several of them.
You May Not Fulfill Job Responsibilities
If you lied on my resume and misrepresented your job skills, there high a high probability you won’t be able to fulfill your job responsibilities. For instance, if you applied for a software developer position and got the job knowing you only have coding experience in C++ and C#. However, the employer requires Java and Python.
This is clearly a problem because you will have to increase your Java and Python skills. But what happens when you underperform in your department? That's pretty hard to hide it from your manager when you can't do a project because you don't have the right skills. As a result, you will likely face harsh consequences, and the employer may chose to fire you for your lie.
You Will Lose Trust
Once your employer finds your lied on your resume, you may thing the worst that could happen is that your employer will fire you. But your job termination is not actually the worst that could happen because when you break the trust of an employer you break the foundation of relationship. Trust is the foundation of the employer and employee relationship and lying clearly breaks trust.
I always advise job seekers and employees to tell the truth no matter what happens. the only way to build trust is to have a relationship foundation built on truth.
If you have inaccurate information on your resume, you will inevitably damage your reputation. You may even lose job references. Even if your employer does not fire you, you can also experience embarrassment and frustration. And yes, damage to your reputation has practical implications because it could hinder you from getting a promotion.
In today's world it is pretty easy to check your background or verify information through different sources. Thanks to the internet, employers can reach out to your references and easily confirm information about you.
If you lose your employment, other employers, companies, and your specific industry can learn you have a bad reputation. And typically, employers do not want employees with bad reputations. Remember, we live in the era of social media, where words spread quickly and nothing written is ever indeed forgotten.
I lied on My Resume and Got the Job – Is it illegal?
Resumes are not official contractual or legal documents. It means lying on your resume is not illegal. However, it is clearly unethical and will likely hurt your reputation. Additionally, the specifics around what you lied about matter. It also matters how your employer sees your lie(s).
In general, employees who have lied on a resume face no legal consequences. An employer taking legal action against an employee is not a common occurrence. But an employer will likely terminate you or take action to prevent fraudulent activities within the organization.
An employment relationship based on false information is not actionable by law. But an employer and employee relationship that is not built on trust will never succeed.
I Lied On My Resume and Got the Job – So what now?
If you lied on your resume there is a high probability you have some type of anxiety about it. So, what do you do now? Remember, it was lying that put you in this conundrum in the first place so there is one clear action to take: TELL THE TRUTH.
Update Your Resume
Although it is hard to mitigate the effects of a damaged reputation, you can tell the truth where necessary. It may seem after the fact, but you can send an updated version of your resume to your employer. Make sure you remove any false information, clarify and add the truth.
Maybe you need to focus on fixing employment dates, change wording of your skills, or make your education status perfectly clear. Whatever the changes are that should be made, make them and and ask your HR manager to replace the existing resume with the updated one. Be up front and tell HR manager that there were errors on the version you submitted originally and you have corrected them.
Tell the Truth
This is the most important part of my entire post: Tell the truth. Telling your manager or HR department the truth can save your reputation and event prevent further damage. Your manager and human resources will be concerned and likely ask you a bunch of uncomfortable questions. But it is a lot better to go through those now on your own volition. Stay honest, truthful, and wise and make the best decisions you can going forward.
When you tell the truth, make sure you communicate clearly. Randomly sending an updated version of your resume may set off red flags to your employer or to HR. Therefore, it is crucial to communicate clearly why any changes were made and why those mistakes existed.
Potential candidates or existing employees who try to outsmart their employers via lies always end up suffering the consequences. Frankly, it is wise to avoid lying on your resume. You can use genuine ways to compensate for performance or skills or to fix gaps in your resume. I even wrote a specific post on addressing employment gaps in your resume so check that out here if you are interested.
Oversight can still lead to an untruth no matter how well your intentions. Save yourself some trouble and simply use a resume template to cut down on the “fluff” of your resume. If you are interested in my best bundle of resume templates, check those out here.
Remember, your resume is an essential aspect of your career so be as clear as possible when you craft your resume. And lastly, make sure you don't lie on your resume. Just tell the truth.
Some Of My Favorite Tools
Thank you again for reading my article. Writing this blog takes a lot of time, attention, and effort so I take care in using a very standard set of tools to deliver my blog to you. Maybe you will find these helpful if you have any similar interests along your career path.
Web Hosting: To get started with a website I recommend SiteGround. Their prices are great and they have free backups for my specific plan. (Here is a very good write up about utilizing their hosting platform that explains a lot of the benefits and walks you through the very easy sign up process.)
Outsourcing: I use Fiverr for many different tasks. My life is pretty busy and I try to use my time wisely. I utilize outsourcing services like Fiverr whenever possible to have people do various tasks that I'm just not good at – like graphic design. If interested, here is the person I specifically use to do graphical design for many of my images.
Online Privacy: I work hard and strive to keep confidential business details private. Therefore, I always want to keep my work viewable only by the correct people. One of the ways I protect myself online is by using a VPN and more specifically I personally use NordVPN. I use NordVPN specifically because it's fast, I can use it on any of my devices, and I can chose from any specific location. If you are looking to retain your privacy online, I highly recommend NordVPN to both my friends and family.