When does padding become lying?

this that and the mba, carbonnyc, thinkingOne of the first posts I wrote about was writing a magnificent resume.  If you work hard for your credentials you certainly want to flaunt them and I fully support that, but I do not support falsifying your credentials.  Take a look at what is going on with the current Yahoo CEO. 

The Yahoo CEO supposedly claimed that he had a bachelor’s degree in accounting and computer science.  It was found out through one of the members of the board of directors, coincidently a member whose organization is trying to get more seats on the board.  When does stretching the truth on your previous employment or educational credentials become falsifying. 

When you think about it you can really fluff up any job to make it seem like the work functions are much more complex than the actual tasks performed.  That is what professional resume writers do; they add fluff and critique your writing to what hiring managers want to see. 

With the availability of the internet at our fingers now, you really have to be careful to make sure that you do not commit resume fraud.  You can do a quick Google search on yourself to see what comes up and you may be pleasantly surprised.  According to Hire Right which is a firm that does background checks on resumes:

80% of all resumes are misleading
20% state fraudulent degrees
30% show altered employment dates
40% have inflated salary claims
30% have inaccurate job descriptions
27% give falsified references     

Is it ever acceptable to falsify anything on your resume?  What about if you say that you have done cost accounting but you have only viewed the materials that went into the costing?  Is that acceptable?

Photo By: CarbonNYC

36 thoughts on “When does padding become lying?

  1. Wow those are some surprising stats. I knew lots of people tried to artificially beef up their resume, but I wouldn’t have thought it was that common. It makes me think of my own resume and whether I was being completely honest. I may have got some dates a little off, but I don’t think there’s anything on there that is intentionally misleading.

  2. Wow I would NEVER falsify info on my resume. If someone wanted to hire me based off of my resume, I’d assume they’d want those skills put to use, or I’d be stuck in that lie some time. There’s just no good that comes out of a little white lie, because it turns into a bigger lie later on.

  3. I don’t think you should falsify. You are wasting both your time and the employers. They are trying to find the best person to fit the job and if you don’t meet the credentials, then there is a chance that you are not fit.

  4. OMG!! Those numbers are shocking.

    I applied for a job at the university I graduated from, so I definitely couldn’t falsify any degree or awards — and after I was hired, they told me the checked my transcript in the system to verify what I’d said was true, so I’m really glad I didn’t lie.

    I don’t list salaries on my resumes so I couldn’t even falsify that.. and references I expect my prospective employer to actually contact them so I’d be way to scared to give a fake one.

    Lying on your resume is risky, it just strikes me as so easy to be found out.

  5. Those numbers are crazy. I would never falsify anything on my resumes, especially something as easily verifiable as what my degree was in college. People need to think twice because things like this definitely come back to haunt you.

  6. I was thinking the other day that my resume would LOOK padded, since I work for a startup that had five customers when they hired me. Now those numbers are up one million percent, which really is absurd.

  7. I would never falisfy. I’d be so worried that if I falisfied that they would ask me how to do something or ask me a question that I should be able to answer and I’d fail. Whenever someone helped me write a resume, I have always made sure that they stuck to the facts.

  8. It should be considered criminal act to do so. It’s more likely that those who falsify have more ethical problems as they don’t see anything wrong with deceiving.

  9. Hi Christopher,
    I think it would be scary to lie about your skills on your resume. Sooner or later you’ll be caught when you are asked to perform them.
    I remember a movie Leonardo DiCaprio was in where he falsified his documents and he pretended he was a lawyer, a doctor and even an airline pilot. It was based on a true story and I wondered at that time how the real person was able to go through the deception.
    Definitely not a good idea.

  10. Here’s a question: Say you discovered an employee had falsified the resume he used when he applied for the job, 5 years ago. But he’s done a stellar job since, and is a real asset to the company. Would you fire him? Would you just forget about it? Something in between?

  11. Nope, cost accounting=cost accounting.

    I think people if people realized that the resume is a hurdle instead of the end result for most employers, they’d stop making stuff up. I’ve never won a job on the strength of my resume….it was on my personal communication skills, interview and portfolio.

  12. That’s A LOT of lying! I can hardly believe it! It’s funny reading this after posting about my job being unethical and asking me to lie to clients… guess unethical behavior goes both ways (employer and employees!)!

  13. I wouldn’t falsify. I think you can make your resume look good by pointing out your strong qualities, but lying is just a bad idea.

  14. Wow – the made up degrees part is scary, but I can’t imagine any of the others impacting your job search too much. I think you’re selected based on few big things on your resume, and by the time you’re interviewing it’s all about how you TALK about what you’ve done and what’s on your resume…Not saying that it’s ok to lie, (it’s definitely NOT ok to lie about your degree) but why would you go to such lengths for little payoff?

  15. Those figures are very alarming. Employers do have a legal ground to fire an individual when this kind of pre-employment fraud is discovered. Hence, it’s better to be honest than sorry.

  16. In this economy.. it is so hard to get a job, it is almost a necessity to embellish a little on one’s resume. Frankly, if you are in a sales job or have ever had a sales job, you have to lie constantly to keep your job. If you don’t lie, you aren’t going to be a top performer. If you don’t perform, you have no job. That is why I got out of the investment industry. The lying that went on from the top of the organization, right down to the customer service reps, sickened me.

    1. @ Short Road – I like the word embellish. It is unfortunately the way of the world now and many are like that. They are only in it for themselves, it is hard to find truely genuine people now a days!

    1. @ SB – I agree 10000% why take a risk of being caught if you are only trying to gain a job, especially if you get the job and are later called on it. The risk is not worth the reward.

  17. As you mentioned, the Internet has made it nearly impossible to lie. Linked In, Facebook, Twitter – people will find out the truth. Plus it will also become obvious when you get the job and clearly don’t have the skills you say you do. I would suggest to stay conservative on this.

  18. Other than the falsified references, I’m SHOCKED at those stats!

    I would have thought that prospective employers would contact your former employer… and things like salary, length of employment, position etc. would be verified.

    … and I would have thought they’d want proof of your degree – but come to think of it, I’m not sure I was asked to show my degree.

    1. I have had three jobs since college and only my first job ever asked for my transcripts and that was because I had interned there and they wanted to make sure I kept my grades up to keep my offer from my internship valid. I don’t know if my other two employers checked but I’m guessing my interview was good enough for them.

      1. @ Lance – I dont think I was ever asked either. My wife since she works in education they had to produce a degree and some of her other certificates. Weird how they just believe what you say and dont check too often!

    2. @ Julie – I hear you, those stats were mind boggling once I saw them. I know some people make their jobs sound more glamourous than they are but I didnt think that many did it. I know I have never been asked to produce a degree and I have asked references if they were ever called and no one mentioned ever being called.

  19. I have conducted about 4 dozen interviews the last year, and I can verify that your 80% inaccuracy rate on resumes is pretty accurate. Day after day, I see folks who claim to be an expert on a technology, but can’t answer the most basic questions.

    In an ideal world, folks would mention when they have “worked with” a technology WITHOUT making it look like they are an expert.

  20. Wow…those stats are insane! I knew that padding resumes was a problem, but not that big of a problem. I agree with everyone else that it’s not worth padding a resume. I can’t imagined being hired for a job that I have no clue how to do.

  21. Wow, those are higher than I thought they would be. I will not misrepresent myself on my resume. I do not include salaries, and really dislike being asked, because I live in a low COLA area (which correspondingly means my salary is lower).

    As someone who does hiring, I’ll definitely screen my candidates a little more closely from now on.

  22. I’m sith Shilpan above, it is a type of fraud that you’re committing. Some things are OK, and some exageration is expected, but there is a significant difference between truth and untruth. I think everyone knows what that is for the most part, some are just more OK with it than others.

  23. For years I was 100% truthful in my resume. This didn’t seem to get me anywhere. It seems that in order to be competetive you have to add fluff, since everyone else is doing it!

    1. @ Jon – Just be careful on how much you fluff, nothing worse than being called on something and having no knowledge on how do use something!

      1. No, I don’t do it Christopher! I hated all the employment BS with people bigging themselves up and putting others down that I now work for myself fulltime. It seems that wherever you go some people just don’t want to get on with their job and get on with their collegues.

  24. I don’t understand how people think they can get away with stuff like that. I’ve reworded things to make them seem more important than they are (calling myself a specialist at something because I was the only one who did it), but I’ve never included anything that wasn’t technically tue. I’ve utilized title inflation in the past, but always with the permission of my boss.

    1. @ Edward – I love it..title inflation… I agree with you I do not know why some would grossly inflate their skills. We have had people interview at my work and we asked them simple excel stuff when they said they had advanced skills on their resume. It is great seeing someone stumble under the pressure knowing they lied on their resume!

      1. The problem I have with software-related questions in the interview is that I know how to do a lot of things that I don’t know very well how to describe. I remember one interview I had, I told the interviewer that I could condense 6 columns in their inventory spreadsheet into a single formula. When he asked how, I stumbled through the explanation because without the spreadsheet in front of me, I had trouble visualizing the functions.

        1. I agree. We have had interviewees sit at computer and do some excel work.

  25. I believe it. I would proof-read a lot of resumes between high school and college where I would see people inflating their roles. I thought that would end when I left school but apparently it continues into adulthood.

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