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  Some of those outdated requirements are opening the door to those who have proven their competence in other ways.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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