Somewhere between 12% and 42% of résumés contain a lie, according to such sources as Morgan & Banks, ResumeDoctor and ADP.

ADP once did 2.6 Million background checks and found that 44% lied about work histories, 41% lied about education and 23% falsified credentials or licenses.

There’s even a Web page dedicated to The Résumé Liar’s Club, a list of many dozens of professionals who were publicly outed for misrepresenting their background.


We perused the Web and below are the 12 most common categories of lies we found in résumés:

1) Stretching Dates Of Employment

This is mostly candidates trying to hide employment gaps.

They don’t want it known that they were unemployed for 6 months so they add a couple of months to the end of one job and then begin the next job a couple of months early and, voila, they were only job hunting for 2 months!

2) Inflating Compensation

The most common form of this is when an applicant combines their salary and bonus/commissions from their last job and says that # was their salary.

3) Claiming “Self-Employment” When It Was Really “Unemployment”

I’ve seen a bunch of this lately. People calling themselves “Consultant” or “Self-Employed” when they were really just plain out of a job.

4) Embellishment Of Accomplishments

This usually consists of claiming higher metrics than were actually achieved or inflating the number of people they manage.

5) Lopping Off Early/Older Experience To Mask One’s Age

This is not as common in startups, but in more mature companies it happens all the time.

Some folks are worried about showing their first jobs because it then shows their age. Some employers consider such an omission a lie.

 6) Raising Grade Point Averages

Candidates think: “What are the chances an employer will really check out my old grades?”

7) Enhancing Job Titles & Responsibilities

Some applicants beef up their previous jobs’ titles and responsibilities to cater to the new job opportunity they’re applying for.

8) Omitting Past Employment

CEO Al “Chainsaw” Dunlap reportedly omitted two early jobs in which he was fired (this would have been useful for Sunbeam (a company that eventually fired Mr. Dunlap as their CEO) to know).

9) Faking Credentials

23% of applicants falsified licenses/credentials/certifications on their résumés, according to ADP.

10) Fraudulent References

Some people put friends down as fake references or even a made-up name with their own personal phone number.

11) Bogus College Degrees

Tetra Tech’s stock got walloped when news hit that its president Same Wesley Box inflated his résumé with an engineering degree he didn’t earn.

12) Not Quite “Founder” Status

Early employees of companies sometimes falsely claim that they were a founder of the company when they were really just an early employee.

by in Career Advice