lying on resume

The Top 4 Resume Lies

Studies find lying in resumes is rampant. That said, it’s hard to know how much because every survey reports a different number.

If you wonder, “Should I lie in my resume?” you’re not alone.
Lying in Resumes

Researchers have found these 4 categories of  lies:

  1. Work histories and job responsibilities
  2. Skills
  3. Level of involvement
  4. Interests
Lying in LinkedIn Profiles

Researchers found the same 4 categories of lies on LinkedIn profiles.

But people lie more in their profiles about information that’s hard to verify. Interests would be an example.

They lie less about information that’s easy to verify — like responsibilities.

Lying in Resumes vs. LinkedIn Profiles

Overall, researchers find people lie more in resumes than in LinkedIn profiles.

What the People Who Read Resumes Think

Interestingly, a study published in 2021 found HR managers believe in resumes more than LinkedIn profiles.

A LinkedIn poll I ran in 2020 agreed with the study’s findings:trust, linkedin vs. resume

How to Harm or Destroy Credibility

I see lies seep into resumes and LinkedIn profiles via adjectives and adverbs. Those modifiers seem to tempt people to stretch the truth.

Look at these examples to see how a job seeker might show experience with C-level executives:

Less believable:

Quickly and successfully built C-level relationships across functional areas.

The words “quickly” and “successfully” reflect opinion. They might be right. They might be fibs. Who knows?

Know that adjectives and adverbs make many readers wonder, “Is this person lying?”

More believable:

Served on IT Steering Committee with COO, CIO, and CFO.

That’s pure fact. Facts generate more credibility than opinions.

Cut Adjectives & Adverbs

Read through your resume.

Highlight the adjectives and adverbs (here’s an app for that). Then, rewrite to cut them.

Other people get to describe you with adjectives and adverbs. You’ll benefit from sticking to facts.

Employment History Lies

While the study didn’t call out job titles and employment dates specifically, people lie about those.

Here’s a little advice:

Lying about dates of employment

Rather than lying, avoid using months. Simplify all dates to years (more here).

If someone wants to know more exact dates, they will ask you about them.

Lying about job titles

Again, the study didn’t mention it, but it happens.

What can you do if your job titles don’t mean much or match the keywords on a job posting?

I’m OK with reframing job titles as long as you accurately describe what you did. I also add parenthetical job titles.

Ask yourself if you would be OK talking about a revised job title during the interview process. Would your referees validate it? If your answers are yes, then you’re good to go.

Summary

In summary, tell the truth in your job search materials. That includes your resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letters, and job applications. It will serve you well.

If you need inspiration, look at the executive resumes here.

Featured by: 3Plus International
Updated October 2022

© 2018 – 2022, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.

Comments 8

  1. So true that your Linkedin profile should reflect your CV, honesty is always the best policy.

  2. A resume is a preface to your career, experience, skills, and potential. Your resume speaks to the interviewer before you are being asked. Go through the things that you have mentioned in your resume before appearing in an interview because anything can be asked directly or indirectly to you and you have to justify those points on the basis of your work experiences because the people who will be sitting in front of you would be highly professional and can easily judge you. So always be prepared whenever go for an interview.

  3. David,

    Good point! Always be able to talk (credibly) about the information you share on your resume.

    Thank you,

    Donna

  4. I agree on David Ginchansky comment. ! Your profile should genuinely speak about yourself. Its not about getting a job, it about getting a right job with right responsibilities.

  5. It’s easier to just be yourself in your resume. From my experience, it is better to tell the truth and be able to prove all the things you mentioned in your resume at an interview rather than making a resume to match perfectly a job description and find yourself in an embarrassing situation at the interview.

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