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Is It Illegal to Lie on Your Resume?

A resume is the first thing prospective employers see during your application process. It’s a way to give a great first impression. But if you lack confidence about the content of your resume, it can be tempting to exaggerate or even lie outright to make it stand out. The alternative to this is to hire local professional resume help who service people from college graduates, managers, directors, all the way up to senior executives. They can help optimize your resume to make the biggest impact.


But is lying on your resume illegal? Many people worry that they might have legal action taken against them for lying about their education or experience. However, others think it’s worth the risk to try to get the job of their dreams.


Let’s take a look at why people lie on their resumes and discover if it’s actually illegal or not.


Words "Is It Illegal To Lie On Your Resume" with a man with a long Pinocchio nose

Reasons People Lie on Resumes

Finding a job can be challenging in crowded markets. Automation and AI-powered recruitment tools make it even tougher to get a resume in front of a hiring manager. Sometimes, job seekers feel that exaggerating their skills or experience is the only way to impress during the application process.


They may lie about:


  • Specific skills

  • Education

  • Qualifications

  • Personal achievements

  • Volunteer work


Sometimes this is to fill a time gap on a resume if the job seeker has been looking for employment for some time. Other reasons one might lie include not having the relevant skills or experience, or simply to appear like the “ideal” candidate.


Other people may simply not have any experience writing a resume. This is normal for anyone who has been in long-term employment in the same role. Those coming out of military service, for example, may never have had to write a resume or may have nothing to add except military experience. The urge to embellish a resume can be understandable when employment opportunities are thin.


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Lying on Your Resume: Illegal or Not?

The big question: Is lying on your resume actually illegal? The short answer is, “No.” Lying on your resume is not technically illegal. Because your resume isn’t a contract or other legally binding document, there is no law that covers what you put on here.


However, if you think that makes it okay to lie on a document seen by a prospective employer, there are some things to consider.


An employer who hires you and later finds out that you’ve lied on your resume could, in some cases, dismiss you. If you’re in a probationary period or trial, this could mean instant dismissal with no notice.


Also, if you join a company and transfer your education and employment details onto a contract or other internal form, this becomes problematic. Many of these are legal documents which makes the data you’ve entered fraudulent. If discovered, you could be dismissed and even have legal action taken against you for falsifying an official document.


Getting fired might seem like the worst-case scenario. However, that lie could continue to haunt you for some time. If your next potential employer decides to contact one that dismissed you for dishonesty, it could seriously impact your chances of succeeding with that subsequent application.


While not technically illegal, lying on your resume could permanently damage your reputation in your chosen industry. You could also suffer serious legal consequences if an employer decides that you’ve deliberately falsified information on their internal documents. If an employer believes you’ve acted maliciously, they could seek financial reparations. If you’ve decided to fake documents to support your resume, you could be incarcerated for forgery.


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Resume Falsification Statistics

With all the risks, do people still lie on their resumes? The answer is, shockingly, yes. One study suggests that almost half of all people know someone who has lied on their resume. Unsurprisingly, in the same study, only 36% of people surveyed admitted to lying on their resume. However, this is still over a third of job applicants who state they’ve added false information to a resume.


Data from employers is perhaps bleaker. A 2020 study surveyed employing managers as well as job seekers. Researchers discovered that 78% of applicants had, at the very least, misrepresented themselves on their resumes.


Questions to Ask Yourself if You’re Thinking About Lying on Your Resume

You might feel like you have a good reason for lying on your resume. Perhaps you think that a gap between jobs won’t fill a prospective employer with confidence. Or, if you got dismissed from a role, perhaps you want to leave that particular employer off your list of previous jobs. Sometimes, these lies don’t seem like they’ll affect anyone.


However, if you’ve decided to “plump” your resume by adding experience you don’t have, perhaps you should ask yourself these questions:


  • Is the job I’m going for really for me if I have to lie to get it?

  • Will I be happy in a role I don’t have the experience for?

  • If I believe I am experienced enough for this role, is there volunteer work or alternative experience I can add instead of lying?

  • What would I think if I found out someone had lied on a resume I was reviewing?

  • Will the stress of being discovered spoil the joy of a new role?


This last point is critical. Lying is inherently stressful, especially when there’s the risk of losing your job — or worse. Even if exaggerating your skills lands you in your dream job, will you spend every day worrying about dismissal? For most people, the risks far outweigh the benefits.


Embracing Honesty: The Best Policy

No, lying on your resume isn’t illegal — but it can still get you into serious trouble. Your resume has to be an accurate picture of your experience and education up to the present. If you lie about any aspect of it, you have to live up to that dishonesty. That can be challenging if you don’t have the talent you said you did during the application process.


If your primary concern is that you simply can’t make your experience look impressive because you are new a fresh college graduate or a military veteran, you could hire a military-to-civilian resume writer in Denver Colorado. These are trained professionals who know exactly how to make your resume stand out and grab hiring managers’ attention. They use keywords and techniques that ensure your resume gets picked out, even by automated applicant tracking systems (ATS).


While it can be tempting to exaggerate a little here and there, it’s easy for this to snowball into full-blown falsification. When it comes to resume writing, honesty really is the best policy — for you as well as your prospective employer.

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