Pretty Little Lies: Untruths That 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’re X 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 position will 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.

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