Too many employees operate under the delusion that minor lies on their resumes will not be uncovered or, if they are, will not matter. They may be mistaken.
Studies reveal that resume falsification is a common event. As many as 50 per cent of all resumes contain some degree of distortion – from white lies to outright whoppers. While it is natural to expect that some form of embellishment on resumes will occur, there is a big difference between accentuating your strengths and creating new ones altogether. When it comes to full-blown lying on your resume, the truth is that you can be fired.
When will lying on your resume leave you looking for new work? Here are four legal points that the courts will consider:
- The false statement must be connected to the knowledge and qualifications the employer had in mind when recruiting you for the position. If the statement was about something completely unrelated to the position, you might be dishonest, but it may not be severe enough for a judge to consider it cause for dismissal.
- The content of the dishonest statements is important. Some false statements are actually viewed as less serious than others. For example, exaggerating your fluency in French, in most circumstances, won’t be cause for termination, assuming that speaking French is not a specific requirement of that job. However, lying about having a specialized degree would probably be viewed as a serious workplace offence, considering that educational achievements are preferred considerations for most companies, regardless of the position being sought.
- The company must have relied on the statements you’ve made. In other words, if the company would not likely have hired you but for your dishonest statement, that conduct could justify your termination.
- The company’s reliance on your false statement must have been reasonable. If your statement was entirely unbelievable to most people, yet your employer was willfully blind or simply ignorant of obvious facts, it will have a more difficult time justifying the decision to terminate your employment after the fact.
Not every act of dishonesty justifies termination without notice. Often, context can come before content and a mere error in judgment can be overlooked, especially if there were mitigating circumstances, or an otherwise valid explanation. When it comes to your resume, however, it’s best to stick to the truth.
Daniel A. Lublin is an employment lawyer focusing on the law of dismissal. He can be reached at email@example.com