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Hiring managers share the No. 1 resume lie that could cost you the job

Ruth Umoh

While hiring managers hate all resume lies, a recent survey finds some lies are worse than others.

The jobsite TopResume asked 629 professionals to rank the most serious of 14 categories of resume lies. Nearly all respondents, 97 percent, said they'd reconsider candidates with any type of lie. Nearly half those surveyed were HR professionals, recruiters or hiring managers.

Topping the list were lies about technical capabilities, licenses and criminal records. Yet the biggest deal breaker, according to respondents, was lying about an academic degree. 89 percent of hiring managers felt this was the most serious lie, inching out even criminal records.

It's one of the most common lies that applicants tell, says TopResume career advice expert Amanda Augustine. Many candidates don't want to be disqualified from a search when a job listing asks for candidates with degrees.

Still, it's a dangerous lie to tell, says Augustine. Employers can easily verify this information through a background check.

Instead, be honest and upfront about your level of schooling, she says. "So many people assume that others have flawless resumes so they want to fib," says Augustine. "Ask yourself what skills you have to offer and focus on that."

 

If your degree is still in progress or you're taking a semester hiatus, be clear about that on your resume and note the expected graduation date. Trust can be hard to regain if hiring managers discover you've misrepresented yourself.

Candidates with relevant coursework but no degree should be sure to list their classes. This can give you an advantage if those classes relate to the position for which you're applying or if you picked up skills that could be beneficial in the prospective role, says Elaine Varelas, managing partner at career consulting firm Keystone Partners.

And don't be too hard on yourself. Augustine suggests you read job descriptions carefully since some will ask for a degree or equivalent experience. For example, if you're applying to a job as a web designer and you lack the requested college degree, you can note that you've been working in the field for a number of years and highlight the projects you've worked on and the skills that you've acquired through hands-on experience.

If you haven't snagged that degree yet, you might also change your job-hunting strategy. Try targeting companies that don't place a heavy premium on academia, advises Augustine. Surprisingly, you can find many of these organizations
within the tech sector
, such as Google,
IBM
and Apple. You might also scope out careers in industries such as
healthcare
, where it's possible to find rewarding well-paid jobs without a classic four-year education.

Finally, leverage your professional and social network, says Augustine. Employers increasingly rely on internal referrals and you stand a better chance of getting hired — even when don't meet all the job requirements — if you can bypass the applicant tracking system and get your resume into the hands of a person who can vouch for you and fight for you.


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