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These Job Seekers Lie More Often on Their Resumes

New surveys reveal the alarming extent to which lying has become prevalent throughout the job interview process.

By Jennifer Alsever, Fast Company (TNS)

Lying is becoming pretty standard throughout the job interview process—and it’s especially prevalent among more educated candidates, higher earners, and even company hiring managers, according to new surveys.

As many as 70% of workers said they have lied on their resumes, with 37% admitting that they lie frequently, according to ResumeLab’s Job Applicant Behavior Survey of 1,900 workers. Three-quarters lied on their cover letters and 80% lied during the job interview, the survey further revealed.

The most surprising revelation? Those with master’s or doctorate degrees reported higher incidences of lying. At least 85% of them reported that they have lied on their resumes, and 90% were untruthful on their cover letters.

Courtesy of Fast Company

In contrast, among people without a college degree, 71% say they make up things on their resume and 83% say they fib on their cover letters. Those with bachelor’s or associate degrees reported lying the least, yet still about two-thirds are dishonest on their resumes and 83% don’t tell the truth on their cover letters.

Courtesy of Fast Company

“It’s disturbing,” says Stacie Haller, a career strategist at, an online resource for jobseekers. “It has become acceptable in our culture to lie just to get what you want. Just turn on the TV. People are screaming about everyone lying.”

A separate survey by Resume Builder has found that most people tend to lie about education, because they know that better-paying jobs require college degrees and they’re willing to lie to get that job, says Haller.

Many firms, especially professional services firms, will do deep background checks to ensure that people did get the degree from the school they claim. Haller told the story of one consulting firm that was ready to extend an offer to a woman but declined to do so when it couldn’t confirm her education. Others may fire an employee when they discover they have lied about education.

At the same time, more employers are dropping degree requirements for positions. “They’re realizing that you do not actually need a college degree to be successful in many jobs and that real-life experience allows candidates to be just as successful,” she says.

Lies cut both ways

It’s not just job applicants doing the lying. A separate survey by Resume Builder suggests that just about everyone is lying these days: Four in 10 hiring managers admitted to lying to job candidates during the hiring process to get them to take the job.

As many as 20% have lied about responsibilities of a job, 39% have lied about growth opportunities, and 38% have lied about career development opportunities. Some say they lie more frequently than others. In fact, 6% say they lie all the time, while 24% say they do most of the time.

On the other hand, 45% say they lie only some of the time, and 25% say they don’t lie often. They may lie to get someone to take a job, but it often backfires: At least 55% of those candidates who were told lies wound up quitting those jobs within three months.

“It’s not just one-sided,” says Haller. “We have our nation’s leaders, who are highly educated, spreading lies. They’re saying it doesn’t matter if you lie.”


Fast Company © 2023 Mansueto Ventures LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency LLC.