More than half of employers have caught a lie on a resume

The pressure to stand out in a sea of applicants may tempt job seekers to be less than honest on their resumes, but is it worth the risk? Fifty-eight percent of hiring managers said they've caught a lie on a resume; one-third (33%) of these employers have seen an increase in resume embellishments post-recession.

Half of employers (51%) said that they would automatically dismiss a candidate if they caught a lie on his/her resume, while 40% said that it would depend on what the candidate lied about. Seven percent said they'd be willing to overlook a lie if they liked the candidate.

The nationwide survey, which was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from May 13 to June 6, 2014, included a representative sample of 2,188 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes.

Most Common Resume Lies

There are certain fabrications job seekers may try to slip past employers more frequently than others. According to employers, the most common lies they catch on resumes relate to:

  • Embellished skill set57%
  • Embellished responsibilitie: 55%
  • Dates of employment42%
  • Job title34%
  • Academic degree33%
  • Companies worked for26%
  • Accolades/award: 18%

Most Memorable Resume Lies

When asked about the most unusual lie they've ever caught on a resume, employers recalled:

  • Applicant included job experience that was actually his 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.
  • Applicant 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.
  • Applicant claimed to have 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 years of experience at age 32.
  • Applicant claimed to have worked for 20 years as the babysitter of known celebrities such as Tom Cruise and Madonna.
  • Applicant listed three jobs over the past several years. Upon contacting the 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.
  • Applicant applied to a position with a company who had just terminated him. He listed the company under previous employment and indicated on his resume that he had quit.
  • Applicant applied twice for the same position and provided different work history on each application.

Industries Most Likely to Report Catching Resume Lies

While employers have caught lies on resumes submitted for jobs of all types, levels and industries, some report a higher rate of fibbing than others. The survey found that employers in the following industries catch resume lies more frequently than average:

  • Financial Service: 73%
  • Leisure and Hospitality71%
  • Information Technology63%t
  • Health Care (More than 50 employees)63%
  • Retail59%

The Review Process

Employers may be taking more time looking over individual resumes. Forty-two percent of employers said they spend more than two minutes reviewing each resume, up from 33% in December.

Additionally, most employers (86%) typically have more than one employee review candidates' resumes, with 65% saying two or three people go over each resume. Twenty-one percent say resumes are reviewed by four or more employees before a decision is made.