Is Lying on Your Resume Illegal? 

Is Lying on Your Resume Illegal?

It has been my observation that we are diving face-first into an employer-driven market. The shift from what has been a candidate-driven market has undoubtedly caused a lot of stress to many job seekers. Unfortunately, the highly competitive market that job seekers find themselves in has caused an uptick in candidates who are willing to either embellish their real experience or completely fabricate their qualifications. So I thought we should cover a very important question today: is lying on your resume illegal? 

From Gym Manager to Lead CRA in 30 Seconds Flat

Not too long ago, a lady InMailed me with one simple question: Have I been blacklisted from your firm? She explained that she had applied to several positions but hadn’t received a response. Concerned that her applications had been overlooked, I logged into our candidate database to review her profile.

It quickly became clear why we hadn’t responded. 

It is important to show your foundational experience.

We see candidates gain entry into the CRA role using many different paths, but the reality is that some clinical research foundations provide a stronger experience base than others. Perhaps many will disagree with my thought process, but I place a lot of stock into a candidate’s foundations. Meaning that, to me, what that candidate did before he or she entered into the CRA role is important.  

Given that mindset, when I look at a candidate’s LinkedIn profile or resume, I almost always start by reviewing their basic training. You have heard me say it many times: I want to read your story. This means that I want to know where you came from, where you are now, and where you want to go. 

It is important to me that your story (and thus your career path) is clear. 

Everyone’s journey into the CRA role may be different, but there are a handful of paths that I find concerning. The most concerning is a lack of foundational experience. In this lady’s case, she transitioned from being a general manager at a gym to being a contract Lead CRA with a staffing company. 


Where had she gained her foundational clinical research experience?  What company had the staffing agency assigned her to? Was the company even a Sponsor or CRO? Industry… non-industry? Had she monitored before she was titled as a lead? And in all fairness, how was she qualified to be a Lead CRA?

Was she being unclear or vague on purpose? 

Make sure your digital footprint aligns across all platforms.

Her LinkedIn profile showed her next position to be a Lead CRA with a CRO out of Dublin. We work with a lot of CROs with headquarters in other countries, so I certainly realize that working as a Lead CRA for a CRO out of Dublin is possible. 

But her resume conflicted with her LinkedIn profile. Her LinkedIn profile stated she worked for a CRO out of Atlanta, GA. And when she and I were corresponding on LinkedIn, she told me the CRO was out of Sweden. So who did she work for during that time?

At this point, I had enough information to explain why we had not moved forward with her candidacy. I gave her the details of the flags I was seeing and then explained that we had put her into a ‘not now’ category because of the flags we had identified. 

Here is what she said: 

A recruiter told me to change my resume. 

Candidates should always consider tailoring their resume for every position. And a good recruiter will offer guidance and advice regarding resume content and formatting. But outside of helping a candidate correct grammar, spelling, or formatting issues, advice should only be to add real qualifications that make you more competitive. For example, when we are representing someone for an oncology position, we make sure the candidate has detailed her actual oncology experience on her resume. 

A recruiter should never ask you to embellish or falsify information. 

This particular lady’s recruiter told her that she would look more competitive if she added “Lead” to her title. Her recruiter couldn’t have been more wrong because the lead title wasn’t logical in this circumstance. And while the recruiter gave her horrible advice, the job seeker was foolish enough to take it! 

Your job history is your job history. The resume isn’t supposed to be a fictional document. Which brings me to this question: 

Is Lying on Your Resume Illegal? 

…it depends. Did you purchase a degree from a diploma mill or falsify your educational diploma? Did you transfer your falsified resume information into a company’s official job application system? Did you falsify other legal documents to support your falsification? If so, then it is. 

ResumeLab surveyed over 1000 Americans to see if they have lied on their resume. 33% admitted to stretching their employment dates. 25% stated they lied on a resume when applying to a position they weren’t qualified for. And this one is interesting: 23% of the respondents stated they lied even though they thought they were qualified.  

Overall, since a resume isn’t a legal document it isn’t illegal to lie on it. Is it unethical? Absolutely. Does it take away your legal rights as an employee? Yes – if the employment relationship is later found to have been based on fraudulent credentials, then the employee will lose their rights to legal recourse if the employer wrongs them in some way. 

I believe it is important to note resume fraudulence is more than just the embellishment of skills/credentials or the falsification of employment/educational history. Candidates can also lie by sheer omission. For example, a candidate will often state something like “Bachelor’s, University of XXX” but not really hold a bachelor’s degree. The deception is purposeful and can be classified as a lie. 

The Real Outcome Of Resume Falsification

We can talk about broken trust or being terminated. But the ultimate outcome is damage to your reputation. We live in a digital age where information is easy to find. Similarly, those individuals who have removed their digital footprint are extremely suspicious…after all, what are they hiding? 

We flag candidates we catch lying on their resumes. And yes, that means you are added to our ‘blacklist’. Have questions for us on this ‘Is Lying on Your Resume Illegal” topic? Contact us anytime.