Why Lying on Your Job Application is a Bad, Bad Idea

Your job search is going great guns. You think you have found the perfect opportunity but, as you sit down to submit your application, you realise that you are missing a couple of key requirements. You’re perplexed! Should you move on or should you apply anyway? If you do decide to go for it, should you ignore the fact that you are missing that skill? Would anybody notice if you were lying on your job application? Just a little one… just to say you have it.

When you’re competing for an amazing job against more qualified candidates (or so you think), it can be tempting to lie on your resume, fudge it a bit and give the impression that you have more skills or greater experience than you actually do. However, the short term gains you might make in landing the job through deception can have long term consequences that may do serious damage to your career. 

All the Hiring Managers interviewed in our “Hints from HR” series say that fudging facts on your job application is an absolute NO, NO!

Here are three of the most important reasons why you should never lie on your job application.

1. You might find it hard to live with your conscience

Once you tell a lie, there is always a risk that someone will discover the truth. Ask yourself if you are willing to live continually in fear of that happening.

Think of what a nightmare it will be to go to work every day and try to fool everyone into thinking that you are competent in a certain area that you’re really not sure about. The stress alone is likely to spoil any enjoyment you would otherwise get out of the job. Simply keeping your deceptions up so that you don’t contradict yourself will be a challenge to say the least.

Remember the old saying, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

2. Your story may not have a happy ending

Even if you somehow manage to get the job by exaggerating or lying on your job application, a serious problem still awaits you once you start the job.

If you said you had certain skills or experiences on your resume, you can be sure your employer will expect you to demonstrate those abilities on the job. But if you can’t really do what you said you could on your resume, then you will eventually get caught out and, worst case scenario, you could be fired. Not only will you lose your dream job, but the firing will cast a shadow over your future job prospects.

3. You might do irrevocable damage to your personal brand

Just imagine never being able to get the job you deserve because of one lapse in your judgement. What a nightmare right?

If you’ve deceived your employer, and lose your job as a result, not only will you have to deal with the financial ramifications of being unemployed, you will also have to worry about how much your deception harmed your professional reputation.

Could it affect your ability to get hired? It will depend on whether you plan to stay in the same industry? If you work in one where everyone knows everyone (and that is the case in many industries), you could face some rough times ahead. Your bad reputation may follow you around for a while.

On a lighter note here are some cringe-worthy and funny (I must admit) lies and mistakes hiring managers have caught on a job application (source: Business Insider Australia):

  • An applicant said he worked at Microsoft but didn’t know who Bill Gates was.
  • An applicant said he studied under Nietzsche (Friedrich Nietzsche stopped teaching in 1879 and died in 1900).
  • An applicant lied and said they had a credential when applying for a job at the organisation that grants the credential.  Oops!
  • An applicant submitted a random résumé they pulled from the internet that didn’t even match the cover letter.
  • An applicant claimed to have created computer code actually written by the Hiring Manager. OMG they only keep getting better.

Wrap Up

We at JobGetter believe that honesty is the best policy when it comes to your career. You’re smart, capable, and you’re a great person to work with. You have plenty of amazing qualities and soft skills to offer an employer. You don’t need to lie about your qualifications.

I would love to know your thoughts on stretching the truth when applying for jobs. Do you think white lies to a certain extent are acceptable or not? 

Do share your experiences and stories. 


  • Kim Whitmore

    I have not lied on my resume. Not to my knowledge. Id like to knoe what i was supposed to have done. LIED ABOUT

    • Matt Jepson
      Matt Jepson

      Hi Kim,

      I’m glad to hear you have maintained your integrity and not been tempted to lie or embellish your resume. You should be proud of those qualities. Employers definitely take note of those who are honest and look to include them in their teams.

      Thanks for your comment!


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