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The Craziest Résumé Lies Employers Have Found

Christine DiGangi
The Craziest Résumé Lies Employers Have Found

More than half of hiring managers have caught applicants lying on their résumés, according to a new survey from CareerBuilder, and the lies range from small embellishments to unrealistic claims.

The magnitude of the lie doesn’t matter, because any form of intentionally misleading a prospective employer is sure to hurt your chances of getting the job. If the right-vs.-wrong argument against lying doesn’t sway you, take some advice from a professional: Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, elaborated on the consequences:

“Trust is very important in professional relationships, and by lying on your résumé, you breach that trust from the very outset,” Haefner is quoted saying in a news release about the survey. “If you want to enhance your résumé, it’s better to focus on playing up tangible examples from your actual experience. Your résumé doesn’t necessarily have to be the perfect fit for an organization, but it needs to be relevant and accurate.”

10 Ridiculous Résumé Lies

Harris Poll conducted the survey for CareerBuilder from May 13 to June 6, and the results include responses from 2,188 hiring managers and human resource professionals who work in a variety of industries and corporate environments. Of that group, 58% said they’ve caught lies on résumés, and a third of those HR workers said they’ve seen an uptick in such lies since the recession. Common embellishments include skill sets and previous work responsibilities, but some survey respondents had some off-the-wall examples. Here are the best résumé lies shared with CareerBuilder.

1. Daddy Deception

An applicant listed his father’s work experience as his own, because the two shared a name. Junior didn’t get away with it.

2. Political Impossibility

If you’re going to lie about your experience (which you shouldn’t), you should probably make sure you claim something realistic: One person listed a previous job as an assistant to the prime minister in a country that doesn’t have a prime minister.

3. Cracking Under Pressure

A basketball player with an excellent free-throw record shows the ability to maintain composure in stressful situations. This claim blew up in an applicant’s face when, under the pressure of an interview, he admitted he lied on his résumé about being a high school basketball free-throw champion.

4. Champion of Lies

The Olympics are pretty well documented on the Internet, so it’s not surprising that someone got busted for claiming to be an Olympic medalist.

5. In the Doghouse

An applicant said he had previously been a construction supervisor, but his experience consisted solely of building a doghouse a few years before.

6. The Prodigy

A 32-year-old applicant claimed to have 25 years of work experience.

7. They’ll Never Check References, Right?

Someone took on to go-big-or-go-home mentality by claiming two decades of experience babysitting celebrities, like Tom Cruise and Madonna.

8. It’s the Little Things

A potential employer contacted three previous employers listed on a hopeful’s résumé: One job lasted two days, the other for one day and the other was completely made up.

9. These Aren’t the Droids You’re Looking for…

After getting fired, a job seeker re-applied to the company, listing the same company in his previous experience with one small change: He said he quit.

10. The Split Test

Perhaps in an effort to determine the best résumé, one person applied twice for the same position, listing different work histories on each application. The hiring manager noticed.

Common Résumé Mistakes

Those are extreme examples, but it’s not unusual for job applicants to lie in the application process (and get caught). Among hiring managers who have experience finding lies in résumés, these were the most common fibs: an embellished skill set (57% of HR workers had caught this), exaggerated responsibilities (55%), dates of employment (42%), job title (34%), academic degree (33%), previous employers (26%) and awards (18%).

Some industries are more diligent about fact-checking your application (or they attract an exceptional number of liars): 73% of financial services employers catch lies on résumés, 71% in hospitality, 63% in information technology, 63% of health care employers with more than 50 workers and 59% in retail.

Employers do a variety of reference and fact checks on their prospective workers, so you need to review more than just your résumé for accuracy. An employer may also run a credit check on you (with your permission), so you should check your credit reports in advance of a job search. If you find errors, address them immediately, otherwise, your credit history may inaccurately reflect poorly on you.

Checking your credit report doesn’t cost you anything. You’re entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. You can also check your credit scores for free, which will help you stay on track as you work to improve your credit – you can get two of your scores for free on Credit.com, as well as other insights into your credit history.

If your credit report is accurate but not in as good a shape you’d like it to be, you should at least be able to explain the reasons behind negative information. It goes back to the idea of trust: If you’re honest about past mistakes and explain what you’ve learned, that bad information in your credit history may not be as damaging as you think it may be.

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