CINCINNATI -- Fudging a resume might seem like a victimless crime, but employers are getting wise to it as more applicants try to put an artificial sheen on their average credentials, according to a report from background check service HireRight.
From extending the time they worked at a given company to enhancing the title they held while they were there, 85 percent of respondents to a HireRight survey admitted to exaggerating on their resumes.
"They may have worked on a team, but they say they led the team," Northern Kentucky University professor Stephen Roush said. "These are the kinds of things that almost seem justified in their mind because they want something to set them apart. It's almost human nature to embellish just a bit."
Roush said it's not surprising more applicants -- especially young college graduates -- are getting flexible with the truth at a time when the job market is growing more competitive, but lying on one's resume is ultimately a self-sabotaging exercise.
He recommended instead that a person looking for ways to polish their credentials write a cover letter and include worthwhile non-work experience, such as volunteering with Habitat for Humanity or being involved at their church.
Whatever you do, he added, don't lie. A few tall tales might make it through an initial interview process, but late-stage background checks will root you out.
"It's really critical, the higher you go, that you verify these people are clean," he said. "They can be the image of the company and they can stand for the goals that your company stands for."