Pretty Little Lies on Your Resume That Will Prevent You From Snagging the Job


On a resume there’s no such thing as a little white lie. Because either a small embellishment or a large exaggeration will eliminate you faster than you can say, “Hey wait a minute, let me take that back!” And, if by some small chance you and your lies on your resume make it past the hiring manager’s notice, it’s likely you’ll be found out once you’re on the job.

Taylor Weyeneth, the 24-year-old appointed to a top drug policy position who had to step down for lying on his resume, is a case in point of how lies will come back to haunt you. Even as liars go, he went overboard by claiming a false degree, inflating his position at a law firm and fudging on his role as president of his fraternity.

With the Internet now packed with personal data, it’s not hard for employers to verify your information. Exposure of even the smallest inconsistency in the claims you make on your resume can do enormous harm to your reputation and your career.

Resist the temptation to veer from the truth on your resume or when representing yourself to a potential employer. Take note of these particular topics where over-inflated claims tend to occur:

Accurately describe your degree.

Academic credentials are often a requirement of the position. If you fell short of earning a degree, but completed coursework relevant to the position, you’re better off saying so if you choose to apply. This means stating on your resume — and not waiting to clarify it in the interview phase — that you’reX number of credits shy of a degree, but successfully completed such-and-such classes that address the needed qualifications.

State job duration with applicable dates.

Inflating start or end dates of a former positionwill be found out. In fact, inquiries about a former employee oftentimes result only in verification of dates of employment and job title, because in certain locations it’s illegal to give out more information. Trying to cover for gaps in employment by eliminating months and only listing years could be considered disingenuous if discovered.

Tout only the skills you truly possess.

If your writing prowess boils down to regularly updating your Facebook page or your computer aptitude is limited to Microsoft Word, you have no business claiming these skills. Stating that you’re proficient in another language when, at best, you can order off a menu, is just a bald-faced lie. Then, when you have to make good on your hyperbole, you’ll be exposed as an audacious impostor and shown the door.

Appropriately portray your role in a project.

Embellishing your part in carrying out a project seems like it would be hard to disprove, but a few probing questions in an interview may uncover the lie. Any vague responses when you’re asked how you were chosen to lead the initiative, what challenges you ran up against or how you measured results, will raise a red flag. One candidate represented new designs for Crocks shoes that were created for a college assignment as work that the company commissioned, but questions during the interview inquiring about results of the project instantly exposed the falsehood.

Include any short-term jobs.

Yes, that three-month stint you took out of desperation that turned out to be just the mismatch you expected needs to be documented. Even though you’d rather forget it altogether, if your prospective employer conducts a background check, the time at that company will show up. Any such omission on your resume will raise questions.

Hiring managers are masters at weeding out resumes containing outlandish and over-zealous claims. But, when job candidates are forthcoming about any shortfalls and candid about any career lapses, they’ll stand out in their display of integrity.

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This guest post was authored by Vicky Oliver

Vicky Oliver is a leading career development expert and the multi-best-selling author of five books, including 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions (Sourcebooks 2005), named in the top 10 list of “Best Books for HR Interview Prep,”  301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions (Skyhorse 2010), and Power Sales Words: How to Write It, Say It and Sell It with Sizzle (Sourcebooks 2006). She is a sought-after speaker and seminar presenter and a popular media source, having made over 700 appearances in broadcast, print, and online outlets. For more information, visit

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.

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