Six Reasons to Tell the Truth on Your Résumé

Your résumé reflects who you are and is an important tool to help you get an interview. How you present your skills and abilities says a lot about you as a person and as a potential employee.

When looking for a job it is important to present yourself in the most accurate light, so it’s imperative that you stick to the truth instead of stretching it – especially when it comes to your résumé.

Obviously lying on your résumé is a bad idea, however many people have no objection to setting their personal and business ethics aside to try and land a job. Providing false and misleading information has become relatively common, with job seekers believing – or perhaps hoping – that employers will not bother checking the details of applicants.

Today’s lies can haunt you the rest of your career, so factual is the way to go. If you elect to exaggerate or misrepresent the facts you are bound to be caught in the act:

Education. Not every job requires a degree – high school, GED or college – but if you state you have a particular degree you better have earned it. With electronic alumni databases it’s too easy for employers to verify whether you graduated or not.

Experience. Work accomplishments and job responsibilities are the most common areas where job seekers stretch the truth. Employers can sniff out résumé padding, and your embellishments will lead to your downfall in an interview when you can’t support what you’ve presented on paper.

Title. It might seem harmless to give yourself a title boost from specialist to manager or from coordinator to director. But, if your responsibilities don’t match up with your title you will have a lot of explaining to do.

Dates. If you had a lapse in employment, it’s better to have a gap on your résumé than to state you worked at an employer when you did not. Common missteps here include listing inaccurate start or stop dates or listing that you worked somewhere for multiple years (from 2005-2006) when you only worked there in December and January.

Compensation. You are better served to list your real income on a job application than to give yourself a pay boost. It is better to leave those spots blank or write n/a (not applicable) then to falsify your compensation history.

Skills. Are you really proficient in Word and Excel or do you only know how to open the file? Ordering office supplies does not equate to managing the department budget. And working in a cubicle with three co-workers does not grant you supervisory or managerial responsibilities. Only list the skills you possess.

All these blunders are easily discovered from a simple reference call to a prior employer. One call and a hiring manager can determine your job title, pay rate, dates of employment, job responsibilities and if you are eligible for rehire.

No matter how bad you want the job, it’s simply not worth it to stretch the truth. Let your talents and experience speak for themselves – without embellishment.


  1. Kate S.

    I’m still surprised that people do this. Besides being unethical, do people really not think that anyone will check? Especially now that you can Google anyone, it’s so easy to just check a few facts.

  2. Sean Simpson

    Apparently they either don’t think people will check or they don’t think they’ll get caught. I also think job seekers don’t respect the lengths employers will go to make a correct hire. Employers are looking for someone who fits in with the culture of the company and the personalities of the team. Hiring managers are looking for relevant experience and transferable job skills. There’s a great deal that goes into interviewing – before and after. It’s more than just a 15 minute conversation.

  3. Tiffany

    It amazes me that people do this still, too, but they do. There have been some big stories of high profile people getting busted for this type of thing, even many years after they got the job. It’s one of those issues where once you’ve made the mistake of lying on your resume, it’s done, and when (not if) someone finds out, your career is in major trouble, not just your job.

  4. anita jacquet

    I’ve known people personally who have done this before, and they wind up getting backed into a corner during an interview. So, for myself, what I’d like to know is, what if you do have a spotty work history like I do and a lot of gaps in employment dates as I do because I’ve also had to raise a special-needs child on my own and had issue with that. She’s older now, so that is really no longer an issue for me, but my history follows me and although that issue doesn’t exist anymore, potential employers still look at that on my resume’ and really frown on it and I have been turned down for work. Any feedback? Thanks

  5. Sean Simpson

    You were employed while you were taking care of your child – you just weren’t getting paid. Taking care of a family member is an admirable thing to do, and something that should hurt your chances of finding a job. The proper place to address your situation is in your cover letter. That allows you to explain your situation and describe how it pertains to the position you are seeking. You can provide additional skills or duties that you honed while taking care of your child (conflict management, time management, budget, teaching, etc.). After you’ve done that your résumé and cover letter have explained the holes. I hope this helps.

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