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Resume exaggerators: fact or fiction?

 

Have you ever exaggerated your skill set to take a step up in your career? After conducting a survey of 2000 professionals of varying ages across all 50 states, we can reveal just how many Americans have lied on their resumes, the most common reasons why, and the rate at which dishonesty is uncovered by potential employers!

 

Over half of Americans have lied to land a job

Staggeringly, over half of Americans (53.8%) have lied on their resume in some way, when applying for a new job; 19.6% have exaggerated about their previous experience, and one-in-ten have lied about either their job history (13%) or level of education (10.2%).

resume lies

Meanwhile, our research also reveals just how good employers are at picking up on fictitious details, with two thirds (67.4%) of resume lies detected overall. What’s interesting, however, is that less than a quarter (23.4%) of all uncovered falsehoods result in an employer refusing a candidate, demonstrating the potential value in a calculated gamble on exaggeration.

As far as the reasons go, 40.4% of Americans stretch the truth on their resume to enhance how an employer perceives their ability and suitability for the role, almost three-in-ten (28.3%) have lied out of a lack of confidence, and over a quarter (26.2%) believe they didn’t have the suitable experience.

 

Three quarters of young professionals exaggerate on their resume

According to our survey, almost three quarters (71.1%) of Americans aged 18-24 admit to having previously lied on their resume, the highest rate of any age group. This could, perhaps, be attributed to how difficult it can be for young people to find jobs straight out of university. Of these, exaggerations are most likely to relate to experience (24.5%), job history (17.7%), and level of education (14.6%).

The most common reasons for people under 24 to lie on their resume are wanting to improve their chances of potential employers being impressed by their abilities (35.7%), lack of confidence in their own ability (30.6%), and not actually having the relevant experience for the role (27.1%).

resume stats

Those in the energy industry are the most dishonest

Looking at resume liars by sector, it’s the energy and utilities industry that sees the most dishonest job applications, with 89.1% of candidates admitting to exaggerating their qualifications in some way – the most common reason being lack of experience (29.8%). Closely following, 82% of charity and volunteer workers have lied to try and land a job, while 75% of those in leisure, sport, and tourism admit to having exaggerated their skillset.

On the flipside, the most trustworthy candidates are found in teaching, with 70% of educators championing resume honesty. Next up, we have retail workers (64.6%), sales staff (64.4%), those in public services and administration (60.6%), and healthcare professionals (52.2%).

 

Alaskans are the most likely to lie for a job

Regionally, it’s Alaskans who are the most likely to lie on their resume, with 82.4% confessing to dishonesty and previous salary being the main exaggeration (29.4%). Next up, Alabama is the second worst state for resume dishonesty (78.3%), while Hawaii (72.7%), Mississippi (68.8%), and California (67.8%) follow closely.

In terms of the most honest states, it’s New Mexicans who are least likely to lie to a potential employer, with all 100% of our respondents claiming to have never exaggerated on their resume. Meanwhile, Americans from Nebraska (80%), Wisconsin (69.7%), Missouri (69%), and Iowa (68.8%) are also found to be among the most truthful.

resume lies by state

It’s interesting to see just how many Americans are willing to lie on their resume to give them the edge over their professional competition. For even more expert commentary, check out the latest over on our blog.

 

Commenting on the research, Joanna Swash, Group CEO of Moneypenny said:

At Moneypenny we want  happy, smiley people to come and work with us and we find an initial telephone discussion is the best way to assess suitability for the role. It is only after this call when we both agree that they would enjoy working at Moneypenny that we then ask for a resume. At Moneypenny we have no set expectations of experience or background and are looking for people with a ‘can do attitude’ and who like to talk!

 

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