These are the most common things people lie about on their resumes

GOBankingRates conducted a survey carried out by ConsumerTrack Inc. of 1,003 people to ask them if and why they lied on their resumes.

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Sometimes, resumes have to be… massaged. Tweaked to fit the job listing. Walked back a little. But none of tooling around is a lie, right? As it turns out, only 5% of all people said they’d lied on their resumes – but Millennials do it twice as much as anyone else. In that category, 11% of adults ages 25-34 admitted to lying on their resumes “at least once.”

GOBankingRates conducted a survey carried out by ConsumerTrack Inc. of 1,003 people to ask them if and why they lied on their resumes.


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Of the 5%, of course, it depends on what one does – and doesn’t – call a lie. An embellishment of start dates? A slight brush-up on skills? Still, of the 5% of liars, half had lied on their resume before.

An additional 9% had never lied, but had considered the proposition. Generation Z was the most tempted, at 14%.

Jenny Foss, a job search strategist, told GoBankingRates, “It’s rare that I encounter someone who completely fabricates something on their resume.” Foss said that “truth-stretching” – which is not exactly a lie, but still sort of is – was more commonplace.

The most common things to lie about on a resume

  • Work experience: 38%
  • Dates of employment: 31%
  • Job title at previous role: 16%
  • References: 15%
  • College education: 11%
  • Responsibilities at previous role: 7%

It’s true when it comes to working experience, sometimes one’s familiarity with Google Analytics must be strrreeetched a bit, a job history “altered” to fit the circumstances. Interestingly, men lied about this much more than women, at 46% and 31%, respectively.

And no one likes long gaps in employment. When it came to employment dates, women lied far more than men – 41% to 19%, respectively.

All jokes aside, history is littered with many big shots whose fall from grace was that they lied on their resumes – some of them for decades, and over basic details – costing them their jobs. Ex-Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson, who said he had a computer science and accounting degree, lost his job when it came to light that he only had the accounting degree. No one cares that he “only” had an accounting degree, just that he lied.

In 2014, Wal-Mart’s top spokesman was forced to resign over an old lie on his resume that said he had a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware when he actually hadn’t finished enough coursework to graduate. This lie was discovered during a background check while he was up for a promotion.

Marilee Jones, the dean of admissions at MIT from 1997 to 2007, told one heck of a whopper for 28 years: she stated she had three degrees when in fact, she had zero. She was found out through an anonymous tip and had to leave as a result.

And even more embarrassingly, celebrity chef Robert Irvine lied about designing Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding cake. As a result, he was fired from his own show on the Food Network’s “Diner Impossible.” He had only picked fruit for the cake.

Perhaps those bigwigs could all relate to the following chart:


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.