It was recently discovered that Congressman George Santos’ resume was full of outright lies. If someone can make it all the way to Congress with a fraudulent resume, it begs the question how common is lying on one’s resume?
In January, ResumeBuilder.com surveyed 1,250 Americans to understand what they’ve lied about in the hiring process and why.
- 35% have lied in the hiring process
- 72% lied on their resume; 68% lied during an interview
- On a job application, 30% lied about their race/ethnicity, 27% about their veteran status, and 23% about their disability status
- 73% have gotten a job using a fraudulent application; 55% got their current job this way
- 1 in 5 who’ve previously lied are currently applying for jobs using a deceitful resume
35% have lied in the hiring process
To take the survey, respondents had to answer a screening question indicating that they have lied in some part of the hiring process. Overall, 35% passed through selecting they have lied, while 57% selected they have not lied, and 8% selected they have never applied to a job.
Men, adults 25-44, and those without a high school degree were more likely to say they’ve lied than their counterparts.
Forty-one percent of men say they’ve lied in the hiring process, compared to 29% of women.
Additionally, 27% of 18-24 year olds, 43% of 25-34 year olds, 41% of 35-44 year olds, 35% of 45-54 year olds, and 18% of 55+ year olds say they’ve lied.
Those without a high school diploma were more likely than other levels of education to indicate they’ve lied.
Forty-seven percent of those who did not graduate high school say they’ve lied, as did 30% of those who completed high school, 42% of those with a vocational or technical degree, 34% of those with a college degree, and 40% of those with a postgraduate degree.
72% lied on a resume
More than 7 in 10 respondents say they’ve lied on a resume. Men were more likely to say they’ve lied on a resume than women (76% vs. 67%).
Most commonly, candidates lie about their education credentials( 44%). Those who’ve lied about their education credentials, more specifically, lied about the degree(s) they obtained (49%), graduation date(s) (46%), and GPA(s) (43%).
A large percentage of respondents also say on a resume they’ve lied about the number of years of experience they have (40%), their skills and abilities (37%), the length of previously held positions (29%), and responsibilities of previous jobs (28%).
Men were more likely to say they’ve lied on a resume than women (76% vs. 67%).
68% lied in an interview
Many revealed they’re also willing and able to lie to prospective employers during an interview. Overall, more than two-thirds of respondents say they’ve lied during an interview, including 71% of men and 65% of women.
The most common lie candidates have told during an interview is the number of years of experience they had (38%). Additionally, candidates say they’ve lied about their skills and abilities (36%) and responsibilities at their previous job (28%).
Within the interview process, some also lied about their veteran status (12%), race/ethnicity (11%), and disability status (11%).
30% lied about race on a job application
Employers often ask, or may even be required by law to ask, voluntary self-identification questions in order to ensure they are maintaining non-discriminatory, ethical, and legal hiring practices.
On a job application, 30% of respondents say they’ve lied about their race or ethnicity.
Additionally, 27% say they have lied about their veteran status and 23% their disability status.
Men, once again, were more likely to lie. Thirty-five percent of male respondents said they’ve lied about their race/ethnicity, 32% their veteran status, and 25% their disability status.
Chief Career Advisor, Stacie Haller says it’s important to get to the bottom of why candidates are lying when asked to voluntarily self-identify.
“More research is needed to understand why candidates are choosing to answer voluntary self-identification questions incorrectly,” Haller says. “These questions are asked on applications in part so that an organization can create a diverse and equitable workforce. If candidates are lying, this may hinder their efforts.”
Improving chances of being hired is top reason for lies
When asked why they’ve lied in the hiring process, the plurality of respondents (60%) say it was to improve their chances of being hired.
Other reasons respondents gave for lying include to get a higher salary offer (31%), add more resume keywords (31%), get around lacking necessary qualifications (25%), and due to the fact they were fired or parted on bad terms from a previous employer (23%).
3 in 4 have gotten a job with fraudulent application
Overall, 73% of respondents who’ve lied say they have gotten a job using an application on which they lied, 55% of whom say they got their current job this way.
Nearly half have never faced consequences for lying.
However, 18% were reprimanded but allowed to continue working, 12% were fired after starting a position, 9% had a job offer rescinded, 6% had their pay reduced, and 5% were suspended.
Haller says lying on resumes has become more common.
“It has culturally become more acceptable to lie, and many may feel if caught there won’t be serious ramification,” Haller says.
“Lying, however, does have consequences. As a recruiter, when I have found out a candidate was lying on a resume or during the interview process, I would no longer work with them. Recruiters, headhunters, hiring managers, and HR professionals will remember you if you are caught lying, and this can follow a candidate for several years. When caught it can cost you your professional reputation (such as Mr. Santos). In today’s world, very little remains private, so lies may be discovered in many ways. Backdoor references are common so candidates may never know if during the hiring process someone is speaking to an individual they know or worked with in the past.”
Two-thirds say lying helped them succeed professionally
For many, lying has paid off. Sixty-five percent of respondents say lying in the hiring process helped them land a higher salary.
This was more true of men than women; 73% of men versus 56% of women say they think lying helped them receive a higher salary respectively.
1 in 5 are currently applying for jobs with a deceitful resume
Many continue to lie and a large number have no regrets. Of those who are currently applying for jobs, 42% say their current resume contains lies.
Overall, 41% have no regrets about lying, while 46% do, and 14% aren’t sure
“Hiring managers need to be aware of the fact that many are lying during the hiring process,” says Haller. “No one wants to hire someone who isn’t trustworthy into their workforce, so it’s critical that hiring managers do any due diligence that they can.”
All data found within this report derives from a survey commissioned by ResumeBuilder.com and conducted online by survey platform Pollfish on January 5, 2023. In total, 1,250 Americans were surveyed. The survey using a convenience sampling method. Appropriate respondents were found through a screening question.
Pollfish uses Random Device Engagement (RDE), a method which is random and organic.
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