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Over Half of Employees Report Lying on Resumes

From December 2022 to 2023, Google searches in the U.S. for “lying on resumes” increased by 19%. People are looking for any advantage to get a new job in 2024. Resume-building and career advice website, StandOut CV, surveyed over 2,100 Americans to ask them what lies they are telling to get hired. In addition, they researched fake job references and fake college degrees to see how much people are paying to lie their way into employment.  

Resumes allow job hunters to show off their experience and convince employers to hire them. The report finds that 64.2% of employees have lied about skills, experience, or references at least once. This is up from 55% in 2022. Over half (56%) of respondents say that the rising cost of living will make them more likely to lie on a resume in 2024 to try and secure a job.  

When it comes to different industries, those working in arts and creative industries are the most likely to lie (79.8%), followed by retail and hospitality workers (76.6%), and those in the education sector (69.8%). Men are more likely to lie on their resumes than women (65.6% versus 63.3%).  

When looking at age ranges, the study finds that younger people are more likely to have lied on their resumes. People ages 18-25 are the most likely to have lied (80.4%), followed by millennials (64.9%). Those ages 57-65 are the least likely to lie (40.5%), followed by seniors (46.9%).  

The most common thing people lie about is their salary (32.8%). Others include skills (30.8%), previous work experience (30.5%), college degree (29.6%), job titles (28.4%), experience with software or equipment (27.4%), personal details (26.5%), high school information (26.5%), and employer references (25.4%).  

Research suggests that candidates may lie about their personal details to avoid racial discrimination. A study from the University of Toronto finds that names with Indian, Pakistani, or Chinese origin are 28% less likely to get an interview compared to Anglo-sounding names.  

As the study highlights personal details as a frequent lie, StandOut CV notes that it is illegal in the U.S. for employers to ask about age, race, ethnicity, religion, marital status, gender, sexual orientation, or disability status.  

Google searches for “AI resumes” are up 1,592% in 2023 compared to 2022, indicating that the public is hungry for this kind of technology to help them land jobs. The report finds that nearly three-quarters (72.4%) of respondents say they would consider using AI in 2024 to help lie on their resume, while more than half (51.6%) say they would consider using apps that generate answers to interview questions during a video or phone interview if it was affordable.  

More than half (57%), however, think that using AI to answer interview questions would be considered dishonest, indicating a conflicted view on AI assistance.  

Of those who included false information about their college degree (29.6%), over half (54%) lie about having a degree that they don’t have, while 35.1% lie about their area of study. One quarter (26%) have lied about their grades and 11.9% have lied about the school they attended. 

With more than one quarter of people lying about their degrees, the study analyzes the costs associated with fake transcripts and fraudulent degrees, which may be a necessity for someone who is deep in their life.  

The study finds that a job hunter would need to pay an average of $183.50 for a fake degree and transcript from any U.S. college. One survey by finds that 57% of American employers verify education details when hiring, meaning that fake certificates will likely be caught.  

Overall, one in four (25.4%) say they have lied about the references on their resume. Many job hunters don’t know that they do not need to include references on their resume, as employers can only contact references once they have made an offer.  

Despite this, people use friends or family members (37.3%), with over a third (35%) making someone up, and 18.5% say they have used an online service to create fake references.  

There are a variety of businesses supplying fake references, though around half of fake job references services have shut down between 2022 and 2024. Google searches for “fake job references” are also down 19% between 2022 and 2023.  

While 64.2% have lied on resumes, not everyone is caught. Of those who say they have lied, 81.4% say they have been caught at some point, while 18.6% have never been caught. Among those who have been caught, most lies are uncovered before the job begins. The most common stage is during the interview process (31.5%), while 23.7% say they have been caught prior to that. Another quarter (25.8%) say they were found out after the interview process, 12.7% after being offered a job, and 4.3% after starting the job.  

The most common response to being caught lying was having an offer withdrawn (35.5%), while 19.9% saw earnings adjustments or fines. Overall, 84.1% of people who have accepted a job offer after lying say they are still able to complete tasks with no issues. This likely indicates a successful job interview process in most cases to remove people without the necessary skills, but also reflects those who have told smaller lies that would not impact their competency.  

“Recruiters expect little white lies that may embellish someone’s work accomplishments, but lying about college degrees and former employment history is a quick way to get discarded and blocked from ever interviewing with that company again,” says Andrew Fennell, former recruiter and director of StandOut CV. “For those using AI to write their resumes, I’d encourage them to consider how many others are doing the same, which ultimately means a mountain of resumes that all read the same.”  

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