Candidates may stretch their dates of employment by a month or two to hide a period of unemployment. They might increase the amount they exceed a sales quota by 10 percent. Or they may inflate their job titles by adding “senior” in front of it.
It’s no secret why so many job seekers choose to pad their resumes this way. It’s easy to do, the chance of getting caught appears remote and — let’s be honest — it’s awfully tempting. This is especially true if you’re just starting your career and your work history is a little light, or if you’ve been on the job hunt for a while and are frustrated by your search. A little white lie might seem necessary to give you an edge in the employment market.
What’s the harm? A lot, actually.
Here are five reasons resume padding is never worth it:
- It’s easy to spot. Keep in mind the survey I cited at the beginning of this post. A good portion of hiring managers is already suspicious about the information contained in the resumes they receive. In fact, more and more companies are vetting promising applicants with a fine-toothed comb by conducting background and reference checks. It’s also easier than ever for falsehoods to be discovered. All it takes is a quick Google search, a scan of a job candidate’s LinkedIn profile or a call to a former employer for a lie to be uncovered.
- It might not help you. According to the OfficeTeam survey, HR managers cited job duties and education as the areas of the resume job seekers were most likely to misrepresent. But embellishments there — or elsewhere, for that matter — may not give you the boost you seek.Consider education, for example. Hiring managers usually don’t put as much weight on this aspect of an applicant’s background as they do the person’s on-the-job experience and bottom-line contributions to past employers. Adding half a point to your GPA or falsely claiming to have attended an Ivy League school could prove pointless.
- It may mean biting off more than you can chew. If you have to lie to get the job you want, is it really the right role for you? If you had to invent skills or education that you lack, will you be able to perform the duties of the position? Think about what will happen if your lie is not noticed.
- It’ll haunt you. Even if a lie isn’t uncovered during the hiring process, it may still come to light once you’re on the job. And that could spell trouble.Several high-profile executives have been fired because of fabrications they invented early in their professional lives. Do you really want to look over your shoulder for the rest of your career?
- It could trash your reputation. No matter when a lie is uncovered, it will immediately destroy your credibility and call your integrity into question. And a bad reputation has a habit of sticking with you.
What sort of resume strategies do you use?