Human Resources News & Insights

10 most outrageous resume lies

As an HR pro, you know people write their resumes to put themselves in the best possible light — nothing wrong with that. However, some applicants don’t know where to draw the line between a little embellishment and outright lies.

Careerbulider.com surveyed hiring managers to collect the most outrageous claims they’re seen on resumes.

Applicants claimed:

  • That they were a member of the Kennedy family
  • To attend a school that didn’t exist
  • Membership in Mensa
  • That they looked much different — resumes included photos of someone else
  • To be a CEO of a company when they were an hourly employee
  • They had worked for someone when they actually hadn’t
  • To have military experience that dated back to before they were born
  • They had done work they hadn’t done (and the work was actually done by the interviewer)
  • To be Hispanic when they were 100% Caucasian, and
  • To have played pro baseball.

The hiring managers surveyed said lies about job duties and responsibilities were the most common.

The survey found the most lies and embellishment in the hospitality industry, with transportation/utilities and information technology close behind.

What lies have you found on applicants resumes? Let us know in the comments box below.

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  • Angel M

    A candidate claimed to have 5 years of relevant experience, but he said not to contact his former employer because he worked for cash, and under a different identity because he was in the witness protection program. He didn’t know I had worked for that employer as well and had never heard of him, or met him. Of course, he had plastic surgery done to protect his identity.

  • Doug Fisher

    Worse was a gentleman who claimed to have graduated from the London School of Economics with a Master’s degree and he produced the diploma showing that he graduated in 1970, when he would have been 12 years old

  • Shelly D

    I’m troubled by the “lie” that someone claimed “to be Hispanic when they were 100% Caucasian.” How do we know another person’s ethnicity without some kind of genetic test? And what constitutes “100% Caucasian”?

  • Sandy

    I interviewed a candidate for a staff attorney position who did actually graduate from law school, but not cum laude and not law review – easily verified with one phone call. The most recent work experience was for a law firm that did not exist (the wrong area code for the office phone number was my first clue). The voice on the phone for the previous employer and the voice of a law school professor that was provided as a reference sounded remarkably similar. The issue with this candidate was not so much identifying the lies, but finding any truth at all!

  • Deb

    My comment is in response to Angel M’s comment. That is the funniest HR story I’ve heard in a long time!

  • Gene

    This can be a 2-way street. Back in 2000, I interviewed for a position that required 5 years of experience with Windows 2000 Active Directory, despite the fact that the operating system had only been on the market for about 4 months. Only a Microsoft developer would have that much experience, and they would have demanded much more than the $35,000 per year that the position was offering. I politely declined their offer, not wanting to work for such a clue-less operation.

  • Heather

    Gene – that’s amazing. I love when a company tries to sound all technical and really has no idea. :)

    Shelly D – I can understand what you are saying (I have nieces that are roughly half to a quarter mexican and you’d never know it by their blonde hair and green/hazel eyes) but if someone is completely “Caucasian” – say red or very light blonde hair, very white skin, and claiming to be 100% Hispanic (generally characterized by more tanned skin and darker hair), I think there’s some sort of issue. PARTLY Hispanic, fine.

    MY question is – what does it matter? Why was it stated on their resume in the first place?

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