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CareerBuilder.com says more than half of all employers uncovered resume lies.

And 36% of bosses who caught lies considered the person anyway, 6% went as far as hired known resume cheats.

The most common lies are:

  • Embellished responsibilities – 38%
  • Skills – 18%
  • Dates of employment – 12%
  • Academic degree – 10%
  • Companies worked for – 7%
  • Job title – 5%

Dumb bosses aside, lying in job interviews is unwise at the best of times. It is one of five sure-fire ways of sinking a job interview.

Resume lies unexploded bombs

Even if you’re not caught at first, a resume lie may come back to haunt you. In some cases with disastrous consequences – there are plenty of high-profile examples of people whose careers ended because they couldn’t resist boosting their qualifications on a CV or telling similar fibs.

One New Zealand case was the chief of the government immigration department, Mary Anne Thompson. She lied about her PhD among other things (See: Immigration head’s PhD claim disputed by LSE and Police investigate former Immigration head’s CV).

To get around gaps or holes in your formal CV, Careerbuilder recommends using a covering letter to tell your full story instead of making up qualifications or other resume details. That’s good advice.

Obvious lies

Obvious resume and CV lies have come across my desk. I instantly reject the person, regardless of anything else.

Dishonest employees are more trouble than they are worth. It is better to not hire them in the first place than turn a blind eye then deal with things later.

Things get complicated when a lie comes to light long after employing a person, particularly if the person appears a great employee in every other respect. Employment law makes retrospective action difficult. On the other hand, if the person is a bad employee, uncovered blatant resume lies are powerful ammunition for disciplinary action.

Dumb management

Employers who oversell vacancies don’t help. Bosses who exaggerate the benefits and positives associated with a job in advertisements and interviews are hardly on the moral high ground when candidates do the same.

If you want honesty and trust in employment, you must lead by example.

Dumber management

For the moment we’ll leave aside the idea dishonesty is required for some positions: hiring resume cheats is dumb on three levels.

First, liars are rarely adornments to your company, department or team. They can wreck carefully nurtured external relationships with a few stupid words and land you in trouble or worse. Trust is more important than ever in modern business.

Dishonesty goes further

Second, if someone can lie to you about their qualifications or experience, they’re not necessary going to tell the truth when they report back to you on performance or take a day off work because their kids are sick. A culture of dishonesty is destructive in any industry, in knowledge work it is fatal.

Third, catching high-profile CV cheats as in the Mary Anne Thompson case, doesn’t give you or your company a good look.

As an employer you need to have confidence in your knowledge workers. Hiring people you know are untrustworthy isn’t wise. if you are a boss this is something you should care about.

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