What To Do When You've Lied on Your Resume
Lying on your resume is a bad idea for many reasons, not least of which is that you’re likely to get caught. From the initial background check to the multiple meetings that make up the interview process, there are just too many opportunities to reveal that you’ve been less than truthful.
Even if you make it through and get hired, you’re not off the hook: history is full of examples of high-level executives who lost their positions and their reputations after being caught embellishing their CV.
But if you’re reading this, you already know that. Your problem is that you already stretched the truth on your resume, and now you’re trying to cope with the possible consequences. Maybe you just got a call to schedule an interview for a perfect job. However – and this is a big “however” – you lied on your resume when you applied so the gaps in employment would be a bit smaller or so your last job sounded better.
Perhaps you even added a job or two to make your resume look better. And now the company wants you to fill out a job application. When you complete the application, you are legally affirming your dates of employment and your employment history. The company may verify those dates with your previous employer.
Most Common Resume Lies
If you have lied, you have a lot of company. A CareerBuilder survey reports that more than half of employers (75%) have caught a lie on a resume. Think about that: more than half the people you know might be guilty of telling fibs on their CV.
Another CareerBuilder survey reported on what job seekers tried to get away with most often:
- Embellished skill sets: 62%
- Embellished responsibilities: 54%
- Dates of employment: 39%
- Job titles: 31%
- Academic degrees: 28%
What To Do When You've Lied on Your Resume
You've done it, but now you're worried. What do you do?
Do you take a chance that you won't get caught? Or, do you try and fix the problem without jeopardizing your chances of getting the job?
It wasn't smart to lie on your resume in the first place, because it can come back to haunt you. Even after you've been hired, lying on a job application is grounds for termination at any point in the future – even years later. That said, what can you do now when the damage is already done?
Here are options for how to handle it when your resume contains something other than the truth:
Option 1. Update Your Resume. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees and no sure way to keep yourself in consideration for the job, let alone get an offer, but you could update your resume – fix the dates, change some of the wording, etc. and tell the interviewer that you noticed some errors on your resume and have a revised copy.
Option 2. Come Clean and Tell the Truth. Another option is to tell the hiring manager the truth, which will probably knock you out of consideration. However, at least you won't be hired based on a lie and won't have to worry about someone finding out after the fact.
Option 3. Do Nothing. The third option is to do nothing and hope you don’t get caught.
The danger in that is if they have you fill out a job application, you need to be honest, because you can get fired at any point in the future if they find out and/or if they check your references and verify dates of employment.
Option 4. Withdraw Your Application. Another alternative is to withdraw your job application. You don't have to give a reason why. You can simply thank the employer for the invitation and say you're not interested in the position at this time. You have obviously lost your chance of getting the job, but this is the safest option if you don't want to explain or to have to deal with the consequences of lying.
Unfortunately, there’s really no safe alternative other than withdrawing, because, with any scenario, there’s a chance they won’t consider you for the job once they find out.
Plus, again, you could be fired in the future if the company finds out you didn't tell the truth.
Fix Your Resume
If you've fudged the dates on your resume, fix it. Instead of having to worry about getting caught in a lie, explain the gaps in your cover letter – that way you’ll be proactively addressing them and not having to scramble after the fact.