Is it Illegal to Lie on a Resume?

When you’re applying for something, whether that’s a job, an apartment, or even a passport, it can sometimes be tempting to fib a little bit.

After all, there’s usually a lot at stake, and hiding a past mess up or exaggerating a qualification might be the edge you need to get hired or approved. 

Obviously, there are some moral implications with this, but is it illegal to lie on a resume? Is there a real, tangible punishment you might have to suffer thanks to that little fib or exaggeration? 

The answer to that is more complicated than you think. From a purely technical standpoint, no, it’s not illegal.

However, there are some cases where you might want to reconsider. 

Let’s go over it. 

Is It Illegal To Lie On a Resume

Is it Illegal to Lie on a Resume for a Job? 

The feds aren't going to come banging on your door because you lied to get that supervisor job you really wanted.

It is ethically wrong, but the employer won't have any ability to take you to court or demand legal action. 

That does not mean that you should start filling out every application with grand stories of imaginary accomplishments and other nonsense.

While it’s not illegal, there can be major repercussions. 

First and foremost, depending on the lie, the employer might fire you outright when your lies are exposed.

Then, you’re right back at step one, and you’re going to have a fun time explaining what happened at your next job interview. 

There’s also the potential for the job requirements to be out of your scope.

You might have thought it was a great idea to exaggerate your basic forklift training and say you had 5 years of hands-on experience, but then find out that the job requires you to do very complex maneuvers in a hectic environment. 

Finally, you can essentially shoot yourself in the foot if there's ever a reason to take your employer to court.

Perhaps your employer decides to pay you minimum wage when your work agreement stated they'd pay twice as much?

When you go to take legal action and get what you're legitimately owed, your employer can use any exposed lies made during the hiring phase to invalidate your claim and the agreement as a whole. 

Is it Illegal to Lie on a Resume for Other Things? 

Lying on a job resume is not illegal, nor is it illegal to lie on any other sort of standard application. However, there’s one big exception to this: Government applications and paperwork. 

When you send in a resume to a prospective educational institution, apply for a license of any kind, or even when you apply for a basic passport, you must be 100% truthful.

Failing to do so can be considered perjury or falsification of documents, and there are harsh legal consequences for doing so. 

Should You Lie on a Resume? 

For most applications you need a resume for, it’s perfectly legal to lie so much you make Pinocchio look like a stand-up guy.

However, it’s ethically wrong, and even if you don’t care about the ethical problems, it can quickly send you on a downward spiral to the unemployment line with a poor job record. 

Honesty is the best policy whenever you’re applying for a job or anything else.

The employer will be able to determine exactly how qualified you are for the job, you won’t have to worry about a lie biting you in the rear later, and overall, you’ll keep your integrity intact.

Best of luck!

Title: Is it illegal to lie on a job resume?

Category: Resume

Tags: lying on a resume, is it illegal to lie on a resume, resume lies, should I lie on my resume

Co-Author: Reid is a contributor for theJub. He's an employment and marketing enthusiast who studied business before taking on various recruiting, management, and marketing roles. More from the author. | Author Profile