22 Jan 2019
There are plenty of good and bad reasons to create a fake resume, but this article deals mostly with the downsides of creating a fake resume. However, in the name of balance, a few of the positive sides are mentioned because few issues are black and white. There are plenty of people in this world who have had great careers despite their resume being partly fictitious. Smartening up your CV with a few untruths is okay. This article simply points out some of the reasons why you may wish to err on the side of truth.
The most obvious reason why you shouldn't create a fake resume is that you may be caught in a lie, and where this may be the most obvious reason not to create a fictitious resume, it is also one of the least powerful. People who create CVs full of lies are typically found out prior to being hired. Even if they do get past the interview process, it doesn't take long before they are found out for being fake and are let go before their trial period ends.
The obvious upside to lying on a resume is that you may appear more suitable for a job than you really are. Used in moderation, you may lie on a resume and make yourself a more appealing candidate. However, when it gets to the point where your resume has more fiction than a comic book, it may be time to reconsider your approach. A few lies are okay, but too many lies will make getting a job harder in the long run.
Adding fake awards to your resume seems like a victimless action, but there are unexpected consequences, and Google is to blame. What happens is that a person thinks, “Gee Whiz, this CV looks a little bare, I had better smarten it up with some fake awards.” That person goes onto Google and finds articles about fake awards for resumes, and that person takes a few ideas.
Said person may add in a section about how he/she did a 5-mile sponsored run for Greenpeace because it was suggested in the article. The same person might add in an award for care in the community with the knowledge that it is an uncheckable award. The same person may add an extra qualification for first aid by saying he/she took the first aid course six years ago because he/she knows it will have expired and will need to be retaken anyway even if he/she did take the course six years ago.
Those seem like pretty smooth ways of plumping up a CV. You now look like an earth loving, community-minded, first-aid savvy person. The problem is that the last 20 applicants who wanted to plump up their CV also went onto Google and found that same website that has been sitting there for 7 years. The person reading your CV cannot help but notice you are the 8th person this week to have done a 5-mile sponsored run for Greenpeace, and boy-oh-boy there are a lot of ex-first aiders applying.
If you want a specific job, it is a good idea to write a resume just for that company alone; this would be your tailored-for-task resume. If you are looking to get a specific job that may lead to a career, then having a one-page or two-page CV is not going to be enough. You are going to need to go into detail about yourself and why you want the job. In such a circumstance, it is a good idea to create a tailored-for-task resume so that you stand a better chance of getting the job. This is where you tailor your CV so that it directly addresses the job you want. In the CV, you explain how your experience will help you be more successful in the job you want and with the company you want (mentioning the company by name).
However, there comes the point when a tailored-for-task resume leaves the land of fandom and enters the world of fiction. For example, it is okay to say that you are excited about the idea of working for a certain company, but it is another thing altogether to say you wanted to work for the company since you were a child (this is not as believable unless the company is Disney or a very specialized and popular company). It is okay to say you have attended company functions and have worked with their partner companies, but you are going too far when you claim you personally know bosses, managers and owners when you do not.
No, if you write a fake resume in the USA territory, you are not breaking the law. It is up to the company hiring you to check your resume, to run due diligence checks, and to research your background to see if you are telling the truth. The only way it is illegal is if you pervert the facts in order to trick the hiring company. For example, you can say you are the best brain surgeon in the country when you are not even a surgeon, and you will not be prosecuted (or sued). However, if you try to prove your lie by providing fake qualifications, then you are breaking the law.
You can lie as much as you like on your resume, and there is often very little a company can do about it. In fact, there are few jobs in the USA where you are liable for your lie. For example, you can write just about anything on your CV if you are joining the military, and it is up to them to prove you are telling the truth, and yet if you write that you have no criminal record when you do, then you can be prosecuted for lying to the authorities.
This information isn't given to you in order to encourage you to lie on your application forms and on your CVs, it is simply told to you because there is lots of confusion about the legality of lying on your resume. There is nothing wrong with telling a few lies on your resume, it is just the same as double waxing a car before you sell it, but when a resume has more lies than truth, then it may be time to reconsider your career and its direction.