How to Proceed when You Lied on a Resume
How to Proceed when You Lied on a Resume
While it is relatively common to stretch the truth on a resume, it is generally best to avoid doing so because you may be found out in a follow up interview. If you did lie on your resume and are now worried about potentially being called out, there are steps that you can take being, during, and after your interview to remedy the situation.
Before You Get Called For an Interview
Ask to submit an “updated” resume.If you have submitted an untruthful resume and are now having second thoughts, you can consider asking to submit an “updated” resume. This way, you can correct any lies or half-truths before you get called for an interview. This will allow you to proceed through the application process with a clear conscience.
- If you choose to do this, remember to bring the updated resume to the interview, rather than the old version that contains the lie.
Choose how to phrase your request.At this point, you can choose to be vague as to why you would like to submit an updated resume because you have not made a tremendous amount of contact with the company yet. This can be good if you do not wish to outright admit that you lied on your resume. You can simply say:
- “After looking over my resume, I discovered some information that I would like to edit. Can I send you an updated resume by this afternoon?” Again, you are not admitting that you lied on your resume, just that you would like to make some changes.
Correct the “mistakes” and submit a truthful resume.Edit your resume in a way that is now truthful but not obvious that you lied. Changing numbers or dates here and there is fine. However, eliminating false job duties, accomplishments or entire jobs may be noticeable and will raise questions. It may be best to rephrase these things to be truthful.
- For example, instead of eliminating “Increased sales by 30% in 3 months” you can say “Contributed to a 30% increase in team sales”. This is not saying you personally increased sales by 30% but you contributed to that overall growth.
Express your sincerest apologies for any misinformation.Asking to submit an updated resume may be a red flag to an employer. Issues with trust and your ability to check your work before submitting are just among the few questions that may arise. You should consider apologizing for any inconvenience and submitting an updated version as soon as possible.
Accept the consequences.After viewing your updated resume, it may be apparent that you lied on your initial resume. Again, this goes back to a trust issue. It is now up to the employer as to how they would like to proceed. They may choose to end your candidacy and you must accept the consequences and respect their wishes.
During an Interview
Explain to the recruiter or manager that you lied.If you reach the interview stage and the hiring manager asks you about something in your resume that’s not true, resist the temptation to maintain the lie. Coming clean will make you feel better and show that you want to do the right thing.
- Understand that you may no longer be considered for the job or, if you have the job, that you may be terminated.
Be sincere.Expressing your deepest apologies for your actions may help you in this situation and may ease the feeling the employer will get from being lied to. You do not need to overly apologize. Just a simple, “I’m sorry for my actions” will do, so long as they are sincere words.
Give brief reasons for lying.Some potential employers may want an explanation so they can understand why you lied. Others may be angered and disappointed and not care about your reasons. In any event, keep your reasoning brief and to the point. Just a few words may help you to get your point across and stop the person from becoming more upset.
Express your understanding of their decision moving forward.You can simply say, “I am willing to accept the consequences for my actions”. Then, let them speak. While this is not the ideal outcome, it is something you will have to do if you still hope to get the job.
Keep quiet and listen to what the employer has to say.It will do you no good to start arguing or defending yourself. Staying calm and listening to what the employer has to say will keep the situation from getting out of control.
After the Interview
Ask to withdraw your candidacy.If you went through with the interview without coming clean, you may be suffering from feelings of guilt and worry over what the employer will do if they find out. In this situation, you may want to consider withdrawing your candidacy for the position and put an end to things before they go any further. At this point, coming clean may have lost you the job anyway, so this method will allow you to maintain some dignity.
- You can keep it simple by calling or emailing the employer to request a withdrawal of your candidacy. Briefly state, “I would like to withdraw my candidacy at this time”.
Do not feel obliged to give an explanation.You are not required to provide an explanation for the withdrawal of your candidacy. However, if you are asked why you are withdrawing your candidacy you can simply say, “For personal reasons”. The employer will not probe any further and will never know you lied on your resume.
End on a good note.Thank the employer for their time thus far and apologize for any inconvenience. You can also wish them luck in finding the right person for the job. Ending on a good note may allow you to be a good candidate for another job in the future.
- Avoid saying nothing and hoping no one notices. Doing nothing and living a lie can become a much more concerning situation later on. f you are found out in the future, you most likely will lose your job. Even if you are not found out, you may spend the rest of your career looking over your shoulder and worrying about getting caught.
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