Many job seekers have been doing it for years, convincing themselves that claiming to have worked for an amazing corporation for years, rather than a few months, is not "really" lying. Yes, even stretching the truth and exaggerating a bit are ways of lying. The fact that you are not flat-out lying by naming a company that you have never set foot in does not mean you are innocent of outrageous resume lies. Besides, if you lie about your time spent at a job or something else that may seem minor, it will usually lead to more lies, as your "longer" experience at a job will have to be reflected when you discuss your accomplishments and duties related to the company. One white lie leads to another. If you decide that you want to limit your lying by not carrying it all the way through, you will then have a new problem. Not being consistent by fabricating additional details about what you did at the company will make it look as though you hardly learned anything or failed to contribute meaningfully to the company during your "extended time" there.
Another emerging problem related to resume lies is plagiarism. There are actually people out there (thieves, I tell you!) who are copying job positions, accomplishments, and projects straight from other professionals' resumes and pasting them onto theirs. Besides possibly causing you to come across as too good to be true, especially if your listed experience does not match your well-rested baby face, plagiarism can be detrimental if you copy details about jobs and experiences that you actually do not know too much about. Employers, especially the really sadistic ones, love to grill applicants about their past experiences and jobs. In fact, these are usually two of the first items that employers like to discuss in job interviews. Even if you actually do manage to do your homework on the bogus material you have included, your deer-in-the-headlights expression and sudden shift in body language will indicate that you have lied somewhere—even if you have rehearsed your big moment. If you got your undergraduate degree in acting, you may get away with lying once, but do not worry; the time will come when you are found out—probably after you are hired and nice and cozy, having drinks with one of your bosses.
Now, what exactly is being done to catch resume thieves red-handed? Something very simple, actually. According to Search Consultants International, Inc., more than 50% of all employers hire companies like IMI Data Search to conduct background checks that verify details about previous employers, educational information, criminal convictions and civil cases, and even credit histories. As resume lying has become a larger problem over the years, employing this tactic has become increasingly common. Just a few years ago, less than 5% of employers performed these types of background checks. The government is even getting involved in this controversy—Washington is set to approve a $1,000 fine for claiming false degrees on a resume, according to ABC News.
So, okay. Let's say you do get caught in an "itty bitty" resume lie. "So what?" you might think. There are many companies in the world, and none of them will find out, right? Well, perhaps, but it is amazing how small the business world can be, especially if you lie about a company located in the same state as the company to which you are applying. Businesspeople know other businesspeople. Many professionals have had opportunities to network with others in their field—during school, while holding internships, or at other companies they have worked for. When employers see the names of companies where they have connections, they will read no further and simply call their contacts for information. Save yourself from acquiring a bad reputation by sticking to the truth.
It is time for job seekers to wake up. With 25% of all job candidates admitting to lying on their resumes, according to ABC News, employers are quickly wising up. Accept the challenge to develop a riveting resume, using your finesse with words and real experience to create a clever, yet honest, document. In the end, if you have truly done all that you can to perfect your resume, an employer will respond to it. Even if putting in the work takes more time, it will be worth it.