Resumes & Cover Letters

Is it ever okay to lie on your resume?

Written by Guest Contributor

Some people tell a couple of ‘white lies’ while they’re applying for a job, but how likely is it to catch up with them? Unfortunately, the answer is very likely.

If you’re tempted to make some creative additions to your resume, read this first!

The simple answer? No.

Whether you’ve oversold your Adobe Photoshop skills or changed some dates, lying on your resume is not a good idea.

Some people tell very small lies and get away with it, but it’s simply not worth the risk. The most likely scenario is you’ll be found out pretty quickly and excluded from the list of candidates. Plus, if you tell more than one lie, you might even struggle to keep track of them all yourself.

If a recruiter or employer does believe your lie, you could find yourself in the awkward position of having to prove it. If you’ve fabricated skills, qualifications, and vital experience, that makes for a particularly awkward first day on the job.

So why do people lie on their resume?

Lying on a resume is usually motivated by insecurity. We all want our resume to look good and to be the perfect person for the job we want. If the pure facts can’t do that, some decide to make their resume falsely fit the job description instead.

Some might add more experience, claim skills they don’t really have or remove whole sections of their job history in order to look like a more appropriate choice for the role.

The most common and harmful lies

GPA and official qualifications

This is the easiest to fact-check. If you’ve changed your GPA to include a few more As than you actually have, or claimed you finished a qualification when you actually didn’t, you’re definitely not qualified for the job you’re applying for.

Skills and experience

Before you start adding new skills or elaborating on experience you don’t have, remember that you’ll be expected to use those skills if you get the job.


Left a job in a hurry? Taken some time out between roles? Gaps in your resume don’t always look good, but covering them up looks even worse.

Remember, all these lies can be proven wrong quite quickly. If you can’t come up with the right paperwork, your chances of working with that company are over. If they’re part of a small industry, they might even warn other companies about you.

What you can do to improve your resume instead

You can edit your resume to show yourself in the best possible light – with no lies necessary!

If you’re missing skills, focus on developing them for real, or highlight the relevant skills you do have. Consider your part-time or summer jobs too – it’s surprising what kind of transferable skills you pick up along the way.

If your grades aren’t up to scratch, apply for jobs that ask for the appropriate level of education. If your resume is still lacking some weight, consider night school or taking other qualifications to support your application.

If you’ve taken some breaks, explain why. Employers don’t necessarily care about resume gaps, as long as they understand the reason.

Being honest definitely has its perks. If you get an interview, you can walk into the room knowing they want to meet the real you. And even if you’re not qualified enough for the role you want, the employer might keep you in mind for a different job.

About the Author:
Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV – he is a former recruitment consultant and contributes career advice to websites like Business Insider, The Guardian, and FastCompany.

About the author

Guest Contributor