The use of AI tools such as ChatGPT and Bard is becoming more commonplace, with some predicting that jobs could be at risk as a result. In fact, our survey this past spring found that nearly one-third of companies are prioritizing hiring prompt engineers who have experience working with these types of tools.
Because of these factors, we wanted to find out if workers are exaggerating their AI skills in both the workplace and in the hiring process. In September, ResumeBuilder.com surveyed 1,000 full-time office workers and those looking for a full-time office job.
- Nearly half of recent job seekers exaggerated AI skills; majority were still hired
- Two-thirds of office workers exaggerate their AI skills in the workplace
- 10% of those who have exaggerated their skills were fired as a result
- Men, younger workers, and management/executives more likely to exaggerate
- 85% of office workers plan to improve their AI skills within the next year
45% of Job Seekers Lied About AI Skills in the Hiring Process
Forty-nine percent of respondents surveyed say they’ve been involved in a job search within the past two years. Among this group, 45% admit they exaggerated their skills with AI tools during the hiring process: 32% lied about AI skills on their resumes and 30% lied during the interview process.
Eighty percent of those who lied about their AI skills got the job they were applying for, and 97% of respondents in this group say exaggerating their skills ‘helped somewhat’ (42%) or ‘helped a lot’ (54%) to get the job, with only 3% saying that lying ‘didn’t really help.’
“Unfortunately, I’ve seen an uptick in popular career creators encouraging people to lie to get jobs because the market has been so volatile,” says Resume and Career Strategist, Julia Toothacre. “Notice I said ‘popular career creators,’ not experienced career coaches, because there is not a well-trained career coach who would endorse lying to get a position,” she continues.
“I think people are out of work and frustrated, which leads to making certain choices out of desperation. But as the stats from this survey show, you can get fired for lying. People had lied to get positions before things like ChatGPT came to be, but the disdain for corporations wasn’t like what it is now.
“People aren’t loyal to companies anymore, so lying likely seems like a risk worth taking to get a better title and paycheck. Is that right? No. It calls into question the integrity of a person, but that’s something that person has to live with,” continues Toothacre.
Sixty percent of respondents who lied about their AI skills and got the job admit they faced consequences as a result of lying, while 40% say they faced no consequences. Among those who did face consequences, 44% say they got a job they were unqualified for and 25% say they were fired when the company found out they lied.
65% of Office Workers Exaggerate Their Skills With AI Tools
When asked how frequently they use AI tools at their job, 31% of respondents say they ‘frequently’ do, 35% say they do ‘occasionally,’ 18% say ‘rarely,’ and 16% say they ‘never’ use AI tools.
Despite less than a third frequently using these tools, nearly two-thirds admit to exaggerating their knowledge of AI tools. Eight percent say they ‘always,’ exaggerate their AI skills in the workplace, 17% say they do ‘very often,’ 18% say they ‘sometimes’ exaggerate, 22% say ‘rarely,’ and 35% say they ‘never’ lie about their skills.
Certain groups of employees were more likely than others to say they exaggerate their AI skills. Seventy-eight percent of respondents at the management or executive levels say they’ve exaggerated vs. 52% of entry and intermediate-level employees.
Additionally, 69% of men admit they’ve exaggerated vs. 60% of women, as have 70% of younger workers (aged 25-44) vs. 52% of older workers (aged 45+).
“I think people at higher levels exaggerate their AI skills because there is more competition at higher levels than ever before,” continues Toothacre. “Understanding new technology and how it can be applied for cost savings is a desirable trait. I think the threat of AI to higher-level positions is about staying current and relevant in the workplace. They want to show that they can learn and apply new technology when needed.”
When asked if they believe their job could be replaced by AI within the next five years, 48% of respondents believe it is ‘somewhat’ (30%) or ‘very likely,’ (18%) while 31% say this is ‘somewhat unlikely’ and 21% say ‘very unlikely.’
10% of Exaggerators Were Fired As a Result
When asked why they’ve exaggerated their experience with AI tools in the workplace, 66% of exaggerators say they did so to prove their job’s relevance, 49% say they wanted to appear smarter, and 31% did so to get a raise.
Forty-nine percent of those who have exaggerated their skills have done so to their coworkers, 39% to management, 32% to company executives, and 30% to their direct reports.
When asked if they have faced any consequences as a result of lying about their AI skills, 52% say they have while 48% have not. Among those who have faced consequences, 41% got a larger workload as a result of lying, 20% lost their coworkers’ respect, 12% were demoted, and 10% were even fired.
85% of Office Workers Plan to Improve AI Skills Over the Next Year
Respondents were asked to rate their overall skills with AI tools. Twenty-two percent say they are ‘highly skilled,’ 45% say they are ‘somewhat skilled,’ 20% say ‘not very skilled,’ and 13% believe they are ‘not at all skilled.’
The vast majority of respondents plan to upskill in this area over the next year, with 49% saying they plan to self-teach AI tools, while 45% plan to take a course on AI of their own volition, and 35% plan to take an AI course at the behest of their employer.
Despite expressing concerns about AI potentially affecting their job security, many respondents also seem to have a positive view of AI in the workplace. Thirty-five percent say they are ‘excited’ (24%) or ‘very excited’ (11%) about AI’s potential impact on the workplace, while 28% say they are ‘worried’ (20%) or ‘very worried’ (8%) and 37% are neutral on the topic.
“Workers can start using tools that align with their function or industry to stay current,” advises Toothacre. “There is also a lot of information and ‘how-to’ content available to start learning the functions of new tools.
“Having said that, seasoned professionals need to trust their knowledge and experience in their field and use that to lead how new technology can benefit their companies. In many cases, it’s not about knowing how to use the tool; it’s about knowing how to create a strategy and plan for how to use the tool.
“Another consideration, specifically with AI, is the validity of the information and the copyright of information it produces. While AI is advancing, professionals need to be able to do their due diligence to ensure they aren’t stealing work from someone else,” she finishes.
This survey was commissioned by ResumeBuilder.com and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish. It was launched on September 13, 2023. 1,000 respondents completed the full survey.
To qualify for the survey all participants had to be aged 25 or older, employed for wages full-time with at least 6 employees at their company, or looking for full-time work. All respondents were screened to include only those with a career in an office/corporate environment.
To avoid bias Pollfish employs Random Device Engagement (RDE) to ensure both random and organic surveying. Learn more about Pollfish’s survey methodology or contact [email protected] for more information.