Should you ever lie on your resume?

Recently I was working with a well-qualified 40-something year old job seeker who was laid off as part of a workforce reduction. He was three months into his job search and struggling to make it past the application process due to the fact he did not meet the minimum requirements for the positions he was applying for because he did not finish his bachelors degree twenty years prior.

In a moment of desperation he asked me, “should I just put a fake graduation date on my resume so I can make it past the ATS screening process?”

My client was not alone in his thinking. It is now reported that 85% of job seekers lie on their resume. Even more shockingly, SimplyHired discovered that 46% of hiring managers fail to check references, and 65% don’t verify a candidate’s education.

My advice to my client? Take the high road. If your future employer finds out that you lied on a resume you will be terminated. My client wanted to act with integrity and followed my advice. He also changed around his job search strategy and spent more time meeting one on one with decision makers. He met a top employer through a networking event, met him for coffee, landed an interview… and is now making 10% more than he did before the layoff.

To date, nearly 80,000 people have viewed my LinkedIn post with really great responses.  I’d love to hear your thoughts! To lie or not to lie?


  • Sarah Johnston

    I’m a former corporate recruiter and industry “insider” who got tired of seeing talented high-achievers get passed over for opportunities because they did not have the right marketing documents or know how to position themselves in interviews. I have relocated multiple times across the country as a “trailing spouse” and have had to execute job searches in completely cold markets (where I literally knew no one!) I have been named a LinkedIn Top Voice in the career space in 2019, HR Weekly’s Top 100 Most Influential People in HR, named the owner of the “best resume writing firm for experienced executives” by Balance Careers and a “top follow” by JobScan in 2019 and 2020.

Sarah Johnston

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