Should You Ever Lie on Your Résume?

As a professional resume writer, HR manager, and career coach for over 10 years, I have come across this controversial issue more times than I can count.

Let’s say you have been actively pursuing employment for over a year and keep being told you’re overqualified by recruiters, so you start thinking to yourself, “maybe I should remove some of my older jobs or change the job titles to something less managerial.” For example,  if you wanted to effectively lie on your resume, you’d want to remove the job title of your previous employer from District Sales Manager to Sales Representative and remove any verbiage related to leading teams or managing daily operations. Obviously, this might make you appear less “overqualified” and in return prompt the reader of your resume to consider you for the job. While this may actually happen, you must use caution and think about the long-term repercussions of such an action.

Can a job seeker be jailed for lying on their resume? The short answer is no, but there may be other serious consequences which I will explain below:

Scenario #1 – Lying on Your Resume:

You have been unemployed for quite some time and decide to lie on the resume by exaggerating your experiences, altering your actual job titles to read differently, removing dates from older jobs, leaving the dates of your most recent employer as (still presently working) even though you were laid off, eliminating jobs altogether, or even worse – including degrees from colleges that you never earned. Keep in mind that employers try to verify EVERYTHING before hiring you and it is very likely they will find out one way or the other. Not only are some of these tactics unethical and could get you fired down the road, but it is considered fraudulent and could hold some legal ramifications in certain situations. While it is unlikely someone could get jail time for lying on a resume, civil damages could arise if something happens at the job that causes harm to the business or a client of the business and they later find out you lied about your credentials on the resume. To put this into a more simple perspective, just don’t do it!

Scenario #2 – Being Truthful on Your Resume:

You are still unemployed after several months of hiring-manger rejection and job turndowns, but not selling your soul to the Devil is more important than deceiving your way into a new career. While this might subject you to some hard times ahead in the short term, the long-term benefits will be far greater because when you do get the job, you won’t get fired for lying! Yes, recruiters may be telling you over and over again that you are overqualified. However, this should not deter you from your better moral judgment. Instead, their discouraging words should motivate you to start targeting jobs where your qualifications balance with the level of requirements and set your sights a little higher. Doing this will not only help you find a more stable career path, but it will increase your chances of gaining a higher salary.

In today’s economy, we see many job seekers selling themselves short by applying for jobs they are overqualified for out of pure desperation. This is understandable if you were laid off unexpectedly, but if you are still employed and looking for a new career, plan ahead and keep your resume fresh. Effective career management strategies such as making sure you have at least a three-month stash of funds to hold you over can greatly benefit the outcome of your job search. Anxiety during a job search is never good, and one should never succumb to lying on their resume to get a job. Prepare yourself ahead of time and I can almost assure you the process will go much smoother than expected.


Is there any benefit at all to lying on my resume? The only benefit to lying on your resume would be getting a job that you are not really 100% qualified for. You are not only putting a business in a bad position by doing this, but you are harming your career as well. While you may find employment much quicker by doing this, more than likely your boss will eventually find out and fire you. If you get into the habit of doing this and end up “job-hopping”, your resume will become even less effective in the future. How are you going to explain why you only lasted a few weeks at your last three jobs? Don’t even think about hiding these jobs from your resume because employers can always see who you worked for by using your social security number. If you’ve ever had a credit check done, you should know that the reports sometimes show the name of your prior employers. There are many ways for them to find out.

In summary, it is just best not to lie on your resume at all if you want a rewarding, long-lasting career.

Author: Justin Olsen works for

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