4 Reasons Lying on Your Resume Is a Bad Idea

terrifying interview
••• sturti / Getty Images

What should you do when you find a job announcement that looks almost perfect for you? Almost. You have all the required skills except for one. Should you move on or should you apply anyway? If you do decide to go for it, should you ignore the fact that you are missing that skill? Should you lie and say you have it? Choose one of the first two options because lying on your resume is never a good idea. Here are four reasons you should never lie, exaggerate or say anything that isn't true on your resume.

One Lie Will Lead to More

Let's say you ignore this advice and go ahead and include on your resume this skill you don't have. You've reasoned that it's just one thing, and it may not even be that important to the employer. Then your resume gets through the initial screening, and you get called in for a job interview, and—surprise—the interviewer asks you about that one skill. The one that you didn't think would be that important. So, you find yourself in a quandary. You can't very well say, "Oops. My bad. About that skill you said you require? I lied on my resume and I don't really have it." So you don't say anything, which in effect is another lie, but on the interview this time. How far will this go? What happens if you get the job and you have to continue to pretend to have this skill even though you don't? Not only did you lie to a potential boss, but you have also now lied to your current one.

You Will Always Worry About Getting Caught

Once you tell a lie, there is always a risk that someone will discover the truth. Ask yourself if you are willing to live continually in fear of that happening. Will it be during the job interview? You may not be able to answer questions about the skill in question. Will your references rat you out when the prospective employer contacts them? You cannot and should not ask them to lie for you. If you make it through the application process, will you be unable to perform your job because you don't have all the skills necessary? Is that when everyone will know you lied? Regardless of how or when you get caught, it will be embarrassing. Imagine your boss calling you into his office, looking you in the eye and saying, in a grave voice, "I know." Wouldn't you want to be swallowed up by a big hole in the floor?

You Will Probably Lose Your Job

After your boss finds out you lied on your resume and then continued to lie through the weeks, months or even years of your tenure there, chances are quite good he will fire you. It may not matter if you otherwise did an excellent job. He will have lost trust in you. Even if you had a wonderful working relationship before, this probably destroyed it. Now you will not only have to begin your job search all over again, but you will also have to explain to prospective employers why your boss fired you. You can always omit the job from your resume, but if you were there for a while, you will have to explain the gap in your employment. There's a financial impact to consider too. You may not be able to collect unemployment insurance since you were fired for violating your employers' rules.

It Will Damage Your Reputation

You will not only have to deal with the financial ramifications of being unemployed and the process of looking for a new job, but you will also have to worry about how much your deception harmed your professional reputation. Could it affect your ability to get hired? It will depend on whether you plan to stay in the same industry. If you work in one where everyone knows everyone (and that is the case in many industries), you could face some rough times ahead. Your bad reputation may follow you around for a while.