The 3 Biggest Lies Employers Find on Resumes And How Liars Get Caught

(U.S. Air Force/Michelle Gigante)

Employers know that applicants are going to lie on their resumes, so human resources professionals have become pretty adept at spotting the ways people embellish their history, stretch the truth or just outright lie.'s parent company, Monster, conducted the Future of Work: 2021 Outlook survey. When the results were released in January 2021, it found 66% of employers not only acknowledged that job applicants will exaggerate their skills and abilities when writing their resumes, but they also described how.

Veterans and separating service members should know that hiring managers are definitely going to check up on people they consider hiring, so it is important to tell the truth on your resume and in cover letters.

While some may not be complete falsehoods, these HR departments eventually found out honesty was not a policy for many people looking for work. Here are the three most common resume lies and how using them can leave a job hunter looking for work once more.

1. Education

Human resources officers find that people are most commonly going to embellish their educational achievements. Those who are going to exaggerate their academic history are likely going to make a few courses appear to be a complete or nearly complete education, even if they didn't graduate.

When a job requires a degree and a candidate is hired, the new hires are usually required to show their degree or academic transcripts to prove they have the education they claim. If they can't provide this, the onboarding process will grind to a halt.

Monster resume expert Kim Isaacs suggests that a better idea would be to include the coursework without making it appear as though you have a degree. Meanwhile, you can add other relevant information from your work history, professional development or awards to demonstrate your competency.

2. Gaps In Employment

It's understandable that job applicants would be concerned about explaining gaps in their work history. Veterans don't want to be seen as "job hoppers," someone who spends less than five years with a company, because they know the HR department doesn't want to be filling the same job a year later.

Read: Resume Dilemma: Employment Gaps and Job-Hopping

In fudging their employment history, applicants will sometimes stretch the length of their employment between two jobs to cover a period when they were unemployed. They might even create a fake job to fill that gap. Both strategies are bad calls.

In the days of yore, an employer might not have been able to reach every company listed on a resume. These days, a simple Google search, background check and/or a few phone calls will reveal the truth about anyone's work history. HR departments are definitely going to look at social media. Any hint of discrepancy is going to raise a red flag.

Whether a veteran's time away from the workforce is two months or two years, the best way to address a gap in work history is to explain it in the cover letter. Most significant stretches of unemployment are understandable, as long as the applicant impresses upon the interviewer that they're seeking long-term, stable employment.

3. Nonexistent or Exaggerated Skills

A good rule of thumb for listing skills on your resume is being able to demonstrate proficiency on the spot. If this is not something an applicant can do upon request, then it's best not to list the skill on their resume. Yet, people do it all the time.

These resume lies are discovered well before an applicant gets onboarded, because most technical or skilled jobs require a skills assessment. The assessment will show the applicant doesn't actually have the know-how.

It's much better for anyone to apply for jobs for which they have the required skills. If a veteran's dream job requires skills they don't have, there are multiple avenues available to learn those skills before trying to get the job.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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