Is it okay to lie on a resume?

Study finds lies on 42.7% of resumes!

We’ve all heard the stories about how a taxi driver was a “transportation logistics manager” on his resume and the greeter at WalMart becomes a “human relations director” in the next job search.  Now some people are contending that lying on a resume is so common that it’s necessary to get the better jobs. 

In a new study, results show that after six months of checking out job titles, dates of employment and educational backgrounds of applicants, major misrepresentations were found in 42.7 percent of resumes they reviewed.  Lying has become so common, there’s even a website to help people do it:   “Fortune 500 Recruiter Reveals the Dirty Secrets About How Your Overly-Honest Resume Can Earn a First-Class Ticket to the Trash Pile,” the website claims. “Can you afford not to know the techniques, tricks and methods they use?”  The service promises  How to get College transcripts from ANY University with any GPA you want — and to tell you why you can’t afford not to lie on your resume.

According to, some of the most common resume lies concern:

  • Education
  • Employment Dates
  • Job Titles
  • Technical Skills

The workplace is changing daily.  In a recent podcast I talked about 10 major companies that no longer require a degree.  Some of those outdated requirements are opening the door to those who have proven their competence in other ways.  Can you be creative – Yes.  Can you show yourself in the best possible light – Certainly.  Does the current workplace justify lying to get the job you know you’re qualified for – Absolutely Not!  Tweet This

I once fired a great employee because he took a 4-pack of toilet paper home with him.  He was flabbergasted that I would make such a big deal out of a $2.00 item.  I explained that it was not the cost – rather, with his action I was not clear where he would draw the line on integrity.  It was obvious he would justify some compromises and I felt safer not having him on my team.  He thanked me for that lesson about two years later.

Two weeks ago I attended an interview with theologian Stanley Hauerwas, longtime professor at Duke University.  

Professor Hauerwas is gruff, blunt, strongly opinionated and uses language that would offend many.  But his example of ethics will forever be etched in my mind.  On the first day of his highly esteemed Ethics course at Duke he would gather all the eager students in the room.  And then he would say, “I’m going to teach you all you need to know about ethics.  It’s going to happen today and really requires only two words.  Don’t lie.”  

I love the simplicity of that.  Doing what’s right is not a complicated procedure. Be impeccable with your word. Carefully examine what you tell yourself, what you tell others, and when you decide to speak. There is no better way to earn trust, respect and influence than to keep your word.

Lying on a resume is a clear sign of opening the door to other compromises of integrity.  Nothing is worth that.

The process of creating a resume and doing a great job search that is laid out in 48 Days to the Work You Love still works, getting people into their dream jobs and taking some from $10/hr to $100,000 a year.

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  • Vickie Smith

    thanks! was explaining this to my daughter as she was filling out a scholarship application that requried a resume! toilet paper?! Why didn’t he just ask or pay you ahead? integrity… glad I am helping cub scouts understand the concept while they are young…

  • Jevonnah Ellison

    This is golden! Thanks for sharing, Dan! Favorite line:

    Carefully examine what you tell yourself, what you tell others, and when you decide to speak. There is no better way to earn trust, respect and influence than to keep your word.

  • Heavenly soles

    I totally agree with this post.
    The sad part is when people are applying for a job or a career change they suddenly realize there not so special. It a real eye opener for the ones who feel just do enough not to get fired.

  • Cliff Feightner

    Be careful on what you will say
    When you type out your resume
    When you embellish
    You may think some will relish
    But in a pickle is where you may stay

  • OneAmericanAmongMany

    Today it’s more important than ever not to lie on a resume or job application. Why? Because HR professionals and hiring managers scour social media for information about prospective job applicants. Unless you have completely unplugged from internet activity, your name and any associated background information can be found with a few mouse clicks.

  • Marcy Travis

    I agree wholeheartedly! Not only is it a sign of poor character to lie, IT DOESN’T WORK! Recruiters are skilled in catching inconsistencies. Why in the world would anyone want to take all of the time to do a resume & cover letter, submit it, interview and promote their skills… that they don’t have!

    Someone I know interviewed a person a couple of years ago who was getting interviews to just about every job he applied for (and he wasn’t qualified for). Curious, she asked him how he was getting these interviews. What he did (DON’T DO THIS) was cut and pasted the online job description on the bottom of his resume, then turned the font to white and uploaded it. It printed out looking like an extra page. He would get the interview because he matched 100% of what the screening system was looking for.

    So he got the interview, but wasted his time and the employers, because he wasn’t qualified. What kind of reputation do you think his name had in the community? I’m sure the employers were frustrated. (NOTE; Don’t do this, it is deceptive and the employers have gotten on to it. If you are a 100% match your resume gets rejected now). And if you’re that smart, use your skills for good!

    Follow Dan’s system of intro letter, cover letter, resume, and follow up call. Be your own best advocate. Present yourself in the best and most relevant way possible to that particular employer. Think about what they are looking for and how you can provide that. The employer will love you for doing your homework.

    If you don’t qualify, don’t apply! You’re wasting your own time and the employers. And you are compromising your name and your job search success.


  • A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who speaks lies will not escape. Proverbs 19:5