Watch out, there are two-faced liars lurking among us in the office! More U.S. workers are lying about their job qualifications than ever before, according to a new survey.
Staffing service firm OfficeTeam asked over 1,000 workers and more than 300 senior managers about lying on their resume, and almost half of them —46%— confirmed that they knew someone who had fibbed on their resume. This percentage is a 25-point spike from the workers who said they knew a resume liar in a 2011 OfficeTeam survey.
The number one thing job seekers lie about? Their capabilities, the survey found. Job experience, job duties and education were the top reasons workers listed for “misrepresenting or exaggerating” information on their resume.
Men and millennials know more liars
Some of us are more likely to be in circles with liars than others. Over half of millennials surveyed said they knew someone who had lied on their resume, the most out of any age group.
The survey also found that more men —51%— know people who have lied on their resumes than women —39%. The survey did not explain why men are more likely to know liars than women, but we have a theory: men talk more at the office in general. Men were found to speak significantly more than women in office meetings.
More importantly: Men gossip far more than women at work, surveys have found. Men are more likely to share secrets and even incriminate themselves as a form of bragging: previous research found that men gossip more in general about “romantic liaisons, inept lovers and overpaid colleagues.”
How to spot a resume liar
Employers can sniff out these liars with some basic detective skills.
Survey researchers suggested that you can spot a job-seeking liar if the details don’t add up or if descriptions are generalized.
It’s important to check references. If the references say one thing and the job seeker says another, that’s a red flag.
If the job seeker uses vague descriptions like “familiar with” or “involved in” when it comes to concrete skills, then that person is more likely to be lying, researchers said. A person with real skills will provide more details.
Customize your resume but don’t lie
There’s a difference between tailoring your resume to each job and outright lying. You’re encouraged to customize your resume for each job and use recognizable industry keywords to make that cover letter pop. You’re allowed to emphasize some accomplishments over others: a resume shouldn’t be a flat list of things you’ve done, but a collection of the best highlights.
That said, we all know when not to fudge. You’re not allowed to say you have a degree that you don’t have, or say you managed a team of twenty when you only managed yourself. Even if you get the job, lies like this are always found out and usually even make the national news.
These lies may seem small on paper, but they can leave a lasting dark mark on your career if you’re caught. And odds are, you’re going to get caught. A 2015 CareerBuilder survey said that 56% of hiring managers found lies on job seekers’ resumes. More than one-third of hiring managers in the OfficeTeam survey said they had removed a candidate from consideration after finding out a lie on their resume.
Resume liars get pretty far in their careers at first, which means they fall harder when they’re found out. A group of high school students found out this fibbing principal, a story which made national news. The head of a bank lied about his degree from Dartmouth, and was found out and embarrassed for it. The former CEO of Yahoo was forced out after four months for lying about his college degree as well.
Bottom line: be honest about what skills you have and what areas you need to grow in with potential employers. It only takes a basic background check or a Google search to see if the dates of your employment match up or if you actually did what you said.
Don’t risk your career over a fib. Your nose may not grow like the character Pinocchio’s did when he lied, but your career possibilities will definitely shrink— and maybe forever.