How Many People Lie on Their Resume?

You’d be surprised at how many people lie on their resume, and what’s even more surprising is that 69% of employees never get caught. Some people lie if they were fired from previous jobs or if they’re desperate for work.

But what happens when you lie on your resume? Are you at risk of facing legal action, or can you fake it until you make it? Find out by reading further. But first, take a look at the following interesting facts.

Lying on Resume Statistics

Some of these statistics will surprise you. Few people ever get caught, and even fewer face real consequences for lying.

45% of people lie about why they left a job

Quite a few people lie about this on their resumes. Everyone wants to put themselves in the best light, and it’s one of the “white lies” many people consider harmless.

2% of candidates don’t lie about certification

By contrast, very few people lie about their certification. Considering this is easy to check and it’s considered a more “serious” lie, that’s not surprising. It’s also one instance where lying on a resume may be illegal, at least in certain states. People are reluctant to lie about having critical skills, especially if they can’t supply proof that they have them.

93% of people say they know someone who has lied on their resume

That means that almost everyone lies on their resume. The extent varies, and some people don’t even realize they’re lying while others don’t even consider lies by omission lies. For example, is stretching the dates of your previous employment really dishonest?

Only 31% of people who lie on their resume get caught

This means that a significant majority never gets exposed. Out of those who got caught, only 65% suffered consequences for that. When we put those numbers into perspective, that means that only 21% of people who lied didn’t get hired or were dismissed for lying on their resume.

27% of applicants lie about their work experience

This is another relatively frequent lie. It’s much more common than the “smaller” lie of exaggerating duties on previous jobs (17%).

11% of people who claim they didn’t lie on their resume say they exaggerated results from previous jobs

This just goes to show that some people don’t really consider exaggerations or lies by omission to be lies. A similar percentage (12%) rounded up their GPAs.

Millennials lie the most on their resumes

Almost one fifth (18%) of millennials admit to lying on their application, while around 15% “bend the truth,” meaning that around a third are at least somewhat dishonest when applying for a job. People over 45 appear to be the most honest or have a selective memory because only 7% admit to lying on their resume.

66% of hiring managers are willing to ignore resume lies

Now, this is really surprising. Two-thirds of hiring managers will accept candidates who misrepresent themselves if they seem otherwise qualified. Skill and charisma may be more valuable than ethics.

Education and healthcare workers are the least likely to lie

Only 30% of people working in healthcare or education fields lie on their resumes. Since these positions are highly responsible, it’s likely the people working in these professions have a strong sense of ethics.

37% of people who lied on their resumes do so because of a long unemployment period

After a long period of looking for a job, people can get desperate. Even desperate enough to lie on their resumes. Considering the growing economic anxiety and unemployment, it’s not surprising that lying about employment dates on a resume is fairly common.

Other frequent reasons cited are wanting a higher salary and thinking they wouldn’t get caught.

What Is Considered a Lie on a Resume?

There are various types of lies, but lying on a resume can be put into two categories: lies of omission or commission. Lies of commission are false statements, such as lying about what degrees you earned or which college you attended.

On the other hand, lies of omission are when you leave out important facts on your resume and allow people to form a misconception.

Common lies on resumes almost always include previous salaries or dates of employment. Other lies include fluency in languages or level of technical abilities. But the biggest lies on resumes include:

  • Masteries in skills they have basic knowledge on
  • False reasons for leaving a job
  • Using directors titles
  • Degrees from prestigious universities

Any fabrication of the truth on your resume is considered lying. Additionally, lying about experience to get a job or even saying that you know how to play a musical instrument as a special skill are examples of lies on resumes.

Is it Illegal to Lie On Your Resume?

Since resumes aren’t official legal documents, it’s not illegal to lie on your resume. But This will depend on the extent of the lies themselves. For example, if you’ve given false information on passports or diplomas, you could face legal action for falsifying your documents.

Furthermore, if you sign a statement saying that all the information on your resume is factual and you proceed to lie, that may be illegal. However, the likelihood that you’d get prosecuted if you’re caught lying on an application is very slim.

Depending on the state you live in, you could get a civil penalty or a fine for lying on your job application. In other states, the consequences of lying on a job application could be more severe. This is especially true if your lie causes someone physical harm.

Do Employers Check References for Multiple Candidates?

Employers will always check references for multiple candidates that have applied for the job. The employer will seek help from human resources to validate references and previous employment of all potential candidates.

Additionally, most employers will contact your references if you’re the final candidate. Other employers will check references of all the candidates they interview. The employer may check references that are the most important ones and skip the ones that aren’t.

If employers see that you’ve lied on your resume, they won’t always tell you. They will simply add a “do not hire” flag to your profile. Falsifying resume documents could also affect your chances of getting jobs in the future.

What Happens If You Lie On Your Resume?

Lying on your resume is something you should avoid doing at all costs because it can have long term negative effects on your life. Let’s take a look at what could happen if you lie on your resume:

  • Lies grow: If you get the job you applied for, you’ll have to continue the lies you’ve put on your resume. Sometimes you may have to lie more to cover up the previous lies you’ve told, which can be exhausting.
  • Can’t complete your duties: If you lie on your resume about the skills or experiences you have, you’ll have difficulty completing your duties. You will struggle to meet the expectations of your employer and end up unnecessarily stressed. Lying about job experience can also negatively impact the business because it can decrease workflow.
  • Breaks trust: As an employee, you want to build trust and rapport with your employer. Lying on your resume affects any chance of you building trust between you and the employer. If you get the job and your employer finds out about your lies, he or she has the right to terminate your contract.
  • Damages your reputation: When you enter the corporate world, you want to be known as an employee who has an excellent work ethic and someone who is loyal and trustworthy. But if you’re caught lying on a resume, it could damage your reputation, and it will be difficult for you to repair it. Even if your employer doesn’t fire you after catching you in a lie, you’ll still suffer the embarrassment of people knowing that you lied to get the job.

If You Were Fired, What Would You Put On Applications?

Want to know how many people lie on their resume about getting fired from previous jobs? 45% of people give false reasons as to why they left a previous job. Being fired can have a negative impact on future employment, but lying about it can make the situation worse.

If you’re honest about why you were fired from your previous job, it will show your potential new employer that you are trustworthy. However, most candidates don’t know what to put on their resumes when they get fired. There is always a better way to say fired on applications. Here are some ideas:

  • Job ended
  • Terminated
  • Laid off

During your interview, the employer may ask you why you were fired from your previous job. You should avoid lying about getting fired at all costs. Be honest with the employer and be concise with your answers. If you got fired because of downsizing, then it won’t have a negative impact on you. However, if you got fired because of something you did, you can use positive statements about the situation to increase your chances of getting hired, such as:

“I’ve learned a lot from my previous employer and was grateful for the opportunities my previous company gave me. I’ve also learned from my mistakes and intend to work diligently to make sure I do my job well.”

Or you could say:

“Being let go from my previous job was a blessing because I now have an opportunity to explore new avenues and work to my full potential.”

Lying on a job application about being fired is a sure way to damage any chances of you getting the job. So, during the interview, always resist dwelling on the negative, and try to highlight the positive aspects of getting fired from your previous company.

Do Omitted Jobs Show Up On Background Checks?

As mentioned before, employers will always do background checks on candidates. This is to ensure they don’t hire criminals. Employers also check credit history to see whether you’re financially stable and won’t ask for loans from the company.

But some candidates avoid placing certain previous employments on their job history. This could be because of the following:

  • They got fired
  • They worked for the company for less than four months
  • A fall out with their previous employer

Omitting jobs from applications isn’t lying. Sometimes it’s good to omit jobs from your resume to keep it streamlined. But it will depend on which jobs you omit. You should only include the most recent companies you’ve worked for, even if you got fired from one of them. Or include jobs where your skills and experiences align with the new position you’ve applied for.

Any jobs you’ve omitted on your application won’t show up on background checks. This means the employer won’t know about these jobs unless you add them to your resume.

How Many People Fake Their Resumes?

Statistics about resumes show that over a third of people admit to lying on their resumes. However, if we look at the numbers more closely, a lot of people don’t even realize they’re lying or are even lying about not lying. After crunching the numbers, it turns out that roughly 56% really lie on their resumes, whether they know it or not.

Lies may differ from candidate to candidate. Some use a white lie on their application, and others may fabricate their entire resume to get the job.

Some candidates state the reason why they lied on an application is that they lacked experience. Employers are more diligent when checking references now because of dealing with past candidates that have lied on their applications.

What to Do If You’ve Submitted a Resume You Lied On

Lying on a job application is never a good idea because it may eat at your conscience and also make you paranoid about getting caught. Sometimes you don’t think about the consequences until after you’ve submitted your resume. Here are some ways you can fix the problem.

Reach out to tell the truth

Reaching out to a hiring manager to tell them that you’ve lied on your application could be risky. The hiring manager might see this as a sign that you’re not to be trusted. On the other hand, the employer may respect your integrity and give you a second chance. That’s why lying to get a job is a terrible idea because you can avoid situations that put you in awkward positions like this one.

Remove the lie and resend

Another way to fix the problem is if you contact the hiring manager to tell them that you’ve made a mistake on your application and would like to fix the error and resend it. Or you could simply remove the lie from your resume and resend it without saying anything.

Withdraw your application

If you lie on your resume and you’re starting to feel guilty about it, and you don’t want to contact the employer to fix the problem, you can simply withdraw your application. Explain that you no longer wish to fill the position at the company. You’ll lose the opportunity with the company, but when you apply for another job, you’ll avoid lying on your resume.

Final Thoughts

The digital age has made it easier for employers to find information about candidates. So lying on resume documents is a risk you should never take. Lying on your application could destroy your reputation and affect your chances of getting hired for future jobs.

It’s important to always be upfront with the hiring manager, especially during your interview. If you’ve been fired from your previous job, be honest about what happened and don’t dwell on the negatives.

And lastly, you should only omit jobs on your application if you only worked in the position for a few months. Don’t omit jobs you were fired from. If you were planning on lying on a job application, read this article again to remind yourself of the consequences.

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Can you go to jail for lying on your resume?

It’s unlikely. You’ll only potentially face jail time if the lie causes physical harm to another person. For example, if you work in construction and you lied about being able to operate a machine and a crew member gets injured you could face jail time. However, if you’ve lied about job experience or education the worst that could happen is that you’ll get fired.

Do background checks show GPA?

No, a background check won’t show your GPA. But the employer may find other ways to get this information, such as contacting your school. So it’s advised not to lie about your GPA to the hiring manager.

Should you lie on your resume?

No, you should never lie on your resume. Even if you think the lie isn’t harmful. Even a white lie can break trust, so it’s important to be 100% honest on your resume.

Should I put a job I was fired from on my application?

You should include a job you were fired from on your application to avoid lying about it. The hiring manager might find out about the lie in other ways. While you may be emboldened by statistics about how many people lie on their resume and get away with it, it’s best not to risk it.


Proudly South African, I have a history in psychology, as well as administration, but writing is my first love. I’ve been a full-time copywriter for four years and create SEO-friendly blogs, case studies, web content, landing pages, reviews, whitepapers, and more. Other than that, I enjoy helping people discover their potential through coaching, taking care of my two darling dogs, and saving the world one charity project at a time.

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