Human Resources News & Insights

10 unforgettable lies HR has discovered on resumes

More than half of HR pros (51%) said they’d automatically dismiss a candidate if they found a lie on a person’s resume. So it’s likely these applicants are still job hunting.

In a recent Harris Poll on resumes conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder, 2,188 HR pros and hiring managers were asked to provide the most memorable lie they’ve ever caught on an applicant’s resume.

Here are the highlights:

  • Job experience that was actually the applicant’s father’s. Both father and son had the same name (one was Sr., one was Jr.).
  • Applicant claimed to be the assistant to the prime minister of a foreign country that doesn’t have a prime minister.
  • Candidate claimed to have been a high school basketball free throw champion. He admitted it was a lie in the interview.
  • Applicant claimed to have been an Olympic medalist.
  • Candidate’s resume claimed he’d been a construction supervisor. The interviewer learned the bulk of his experience was in the completion of a doghouse some years prior.
  • Applicant claimed to have 25 of years experience at age 32.
  • Applicant claimed to have worked for 20 years as the babysitter of known celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Madonna, etc.
  • Resume listed three jobs over the past several years. Upon contacting those employers, the interviewer learned that the applicant had worked at one for two days, another for one day, and not at all for the third.
  • Resume indicated the applicant had quit his last job. The problem was the applicant was applying for a position at the company he’d just worked for — and it had terminated him.
  • Applicant applied twice for the same position and provided a different work history on each application.

Who’s lying?

The survey also identified the industries in which HR pros and hiring managers are catching the most lies.

On average, 58% of survey participants said they’ve discovered a lie on a resume, so the pros in these industries are all catching lies at a much higher rate than others:

  • Financial Services — 73% of HR pros and hiring managers in this industry have caught a resume lie
  • Leisure and Hospitality — 71%
  • Information Technology — 63%
  • Health Care (firms with more than 50 employees) — 63%
  • Retail — 59%

What’s the most common lie?

Obviously, the aforementioned lies are quite exceptional and don’t represent the types of lies candidates typically try to slide past prospective employers.

Here are the most common types of lies being discovered:

  • Skill set embellishments — 57% of survey participants have found this type of lie
  • Embellished responsibilities — 55%
  • Fabricated dates of employment — 42%
  • Fabricated/embellished job titles — 34%
  • Embellished academic degrees — 33%
  • False claims about past companies worked for — 26%
  • Fabricated/embellished accolades and awards — 18%
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  1. What are the 10 unforgettable lies HR tells job applicants?

    • 1 – Flexible work environment
      2 – Great place to work
      3 – Growing company
      4 – “Don’t worry about that – we can make it work”
      5 – “I can’t disclose that information at this stage” (translation : Oh god don’t ask that, I haven’t finished my sales pitch)
      6 – I really think you won’t get a better opportunity than this
      7 – Competitive Salary
      8 – Task ownership (if they mention this, it means you will hold all the risk, and none of the decisions – aka the downward spiral)
      9 – “It’s the systems fault” or “I can’t do that on the system” or “It doesn’t work that way”
      10 – Prior employees have succeeded on this role and gone on to great things.

      The last one really isn’t a complete lie. The might have gone on to great things…….but just prior to that left the building screaming obscenities and giving everyone the finger.

      I am sure there are 100’s more. Anyone else want to add some interesting ones?

  2. And, yet, it is perfectly fine for companies to lie to applicants!

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