The 6 Most Effective Ways to Lie on Your Resume
So last week, the CEO of Yahoo! was forced to resign after it was discovered that his resume was not composed of traditional resume things like accomplishments and proper names, and was instead more of an intricate trusswork of deceit meant to snare gullible Yahoo! board members, fooling them into ruining that fine company's reputation. Cracked has covered famous resume cheats before, showing by example how not to get away with lying on your resume.
"But how," our readers might ask hypothetically, a thin sheen of sweat visible on their brows, "might one actually get away with lying on your resume? I have a ... friend who needs to ... steal a loaf of bread to feed his family, and ... needs to pull this job from the inside, I guess? And he'd like to know how to lie on his resume."
Relax, terrible liars, I'm here to help. And, after consulting with experts in deceit, who may have been overstating their expertise now that I think about it, I've compiled the following guide to help you lie on your resume. To better illustrate this advice, I've also included sections from the resume I recently used to reapply for my position here at Cracked, a slightly humiliating chore we have to do semi-annually around here. (It's part of a morale-boosting exercise. )
Having a certain education is often a minimum requirement for most job postings. That degree is typically the first thing a hiring manager will look for, even if only a tiny fraction of the degree is actually useful to that job, and even if that tiny fraction was forgotten due to the effects of vodka and mistakes. So long as you have the piece of paper, you're good.
And really, why even get the piece of paper? Why not just write down the name of that piece of paper? Can you spell a school correctly? That's basically good enough. Hiring managers are very busy people -- that's why they're hiring, funnily enough. Calling a school and asking about some dickhead's English degree is very rarely done. If you're really worried about this, make up the name of a school in a place that looks like it'd be expensive to call.
The "Work Experience" section forms the bulk of most resumes, and with good reason. For HR purposes, past performance is far and away the most likely indicator of future success, and it's here that hiring managers will look to see if you have what it takes to fulfill the role of waitress, or sales manager, or CEO of Yahoo!
When doctoring this section of the resume, you obviously want to paint yourself as the ideal candidate the hiring manager is looking for. But also consider how likely it is that your lie will be uncovered. Hiring managers are most likely to investigate the most important and the most recent jobs, so keep your fabrications minimal there. Save your most creative stuff for the older entries; hiring managers understand it's often not possible to get references for things that happened a decade or more earlier.
This is a slightly fluffy part of the resume, where you list the skills you bring to the job. Most hiring managers only give this a passing glance; obviously, the most useful skills will already be reflected in the "Experience" section. It's still useful to have this section in here, however, if only to populate your resume with keywords that will get it picked up by the filters and unfeeling robots who are a sad part of the modern hiring process.
Remember to be careful here. Any skill that is really critical for this position will likely be tested during the interview process, which will be a lot harder to fake your way through.
"No, don't put that in your mouth. Where did you say you learned Excel again?"
Instead, flesh out your skills with phony ones that make you look more interesting. Choose something that will catch the eye, but isn't job-critical; advertising your German-speaking skills is a good way to find yourself trying to fake a German conversation. Try advertising something that sounds kind of impressive, but that no employer will ever use, like orating, or Visual Basic.
Normally, your name is the last thing you would fake on your resume. If you were to get hired, you'd then have to live your whole working life under that name, which will massively complicate the payroll process.
"There seems to be a problem with your check here, uh ... Mr. Coolio Stallone."
Fake names should only be used when submitting decoy resumes, which is a super advanced technique you probably haven't heard about before, probably because of liberal media bias. Decoy resumes can be used in one of two ways. First, by submitting several fake resumes that match the job description perfectly, you increase the odds that you'll end up on a short list with three other candidates who don't actually exist. The second way of using fake names is of course blatant sabotage ...
Real resumes almost never use threats, because most job applicants are eager to demonstrate how sane they are. "I'm an ideal candidate, and your pets definitely aren't in danger!" these people are saying, unimaginatively.
Which is unfortunate, because the interviewing process is already badly unbalanced; the hiring manager has all the power in the relationship. By making threats, you tip that balance back in your direction. And by making fake threats, you tip the balance back in your direction in a fun, consequence-free kind of way. "Ha ha! Your pets were safe the whole time!" Who wouldn't respond to the relief of hearing that statement with a firm job offer?
If you do happen to find someone who reacts poorly to that kind of offer, consider combining your fake threats with that sabotage technique discussed earlier.
Once you get deeper into the interviewing process, references become incredibly important -- when hiring for a position of any responsibility, most hiring managers will check up on at least a couple references for their chosen candidates. And if everyone who ever worked with you is glad I used the past tense of "work," then you could be in a lot of trouble.
Faking references is a possible solution, and even a relatively low-risk one. Simply get a spare cellphone that you only answer in an Indian accent, or, more mundanely, have it answered by a friend who owes you a favor, Indian or otherwise. Remember to brief your reference, so that their story matches up with your other lies. If your most important work experience is about your time as a software engineer, your phony reference had better be able to speak knowledgeably about how you were able to excel in an Agile development environment. And if you've been threatening to kidnap your editor's pets using a fake name, this is where you put the cherry on top ...
As you can see, when lying on your resume, you have to always consider the long game. What if it gets found out? When is that likely? What will be both the long-term and short-term effects of this? Are you going to be in and out of a low-level job within a couple years? Then yeah, maybe you can get away with some lies. Or are you applying to be the CEO of Yahoo!? Because that's kind of a long-term, high-profile move; someone's bound to smoke you out. Maybe lie a little less, or take a couple night courses until you do become qualified to lead Yahoo!
Or are you simply trying to get a co-worker thrown in jail for a couple days just to see if you can? Because even if that does get eventually found out, you might be able to get a column out of it, and it will at least look really good in the "Treachery" section of your next resume.
For more from Bucholz, check out 7 Tips for Sexting Someone You Barely Know and 10 Helpful Tips For Bending The Masses to Your Will.