Lying on Resumes – Story

Resume Writer


EARLIER this year, Veronica Theriault made headlines by pleading guilty to fraud after scoring a job by listing fake credentials on her resume.

Ms Theriault, a former chief information officer with the Department of Premier and Cabinet in Adelaide, claimed to have “20 years of experience” working at several big tech firms, including accommodation-booking site Wotif.

But it was all an elaborate lie, with the company confirming to the ABC she had never worked there.

It’s not the only case of a high-flyer fudging their resume though — former Myer executive Andrew Flanagan famously falsified his CV to land his $400,000 gig as the group’s general manager for strategic and business development.

And Western Australia’s Local Government (Administration) Regulations have given councils the authority to impose a $5000 fine on applicants for CEO positions who provide “false or misleading information” about their qualifications in the application process — an indication lying on resumes was a common practice.

“That’s a screaming indicator a lot of senior people are doing it,” former recruiter and professional resume writer and career coach Patrick Harnett told

He said up to 80 per cent of resumes he sees contain at least small untruths.

He said common job application lies ranged from the small end of the scale, such as applicants exaggerating their current income during the interview stage, to the extreme, with some actually doctoring university degrees using photoshop to claim qualifications they don’t have.

But he said employers were starting to crack down on false information in the job application process, with some requesting a pay slip as proof of an applicant’s salary.

The average employer is also now likely to do a quick social media check of an applicant’s LinkedIn and Facebook accounts, as well as Googling their name.

“At the interview stage employers usually ask how much money the person is on and people tend to add an extra $10,000 or more to their annual salary — but nowadays a lot of companies are asking for pay slips to prove it and if you refuse, they might think something’s not quite right,” Mr Harnett said.

“And because there’s a lot of doctoring going on these days, some employers are asking for permission to contact a university directly to confirm an applicant completed a course.”

Many companies also carry out police and bankruptcy checks, while others hire specialist companies to do background searches on their behalf, he said.

“Be extremely careful about what information you put on your resume because you can’t get away with saying something is a typo,” he said.

“Work is stressful enough; you don’t want to be in a position where you’re worried every day and looking over your shoulder waiting to be caught.”

Mr Harnett said one of the most common CV lies was covering up employment gaps used for things like travel or raising a family.

“It’s a big no-no to say you were employed when you haven’t been and even though it’s an out and out lie, a lot of people feel pretty OK to do it,” he said.

“But at the end of the day, if you have a blatant lie on your resume and you get hired then found out, the trust is broken.

“There’s an old-fashioned saying that everyone lies on their resume but you should try to be as open and honest as possible and show as much integrity as you can, and if there’s a gap in your resume, be honest about it.”

It was becoming more acceptable for people to take long career breaks for travel, he said, and it could even be seen as a positive by a potential employer — as it may mean the applicant has got their wanderlust out of their system.

Mr Harnett said other regular furphies are exaggerating seniority, claiming to have been responsible for a larger team and getting a friend to pose as a professional referee.

© Alexis Carey

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