You can call it an embellishment, exaggeration, or a fib – but at the end of the day, it’s a lie. A big fat lie on your resume to make you look like a more desirable candidate.

We’ve all been told time and time again that we should never lie on our resumes, but we don’t listen.

So with the understanding that you will probably continue to lie about certain things on your resume (even if you think it’s just an embellishment), I want to make sure you don’t get caught in those lies.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. This should go without saying but just to be on the safe side – never lie about something you’ve never done. Don’t list courses you haven’t completed or make up jobs to fill in gaps in your timeline. I also hope these thoughts have never crossed your mind.

Moving into the more common lies (or embellishments, if you prefer). These are the top three pieces of information that you will lie about, but you really shouldn’t.

1. Computer skills

Most job postings are really only looking for basic technical skills when it comes to the use of computers, but if you see the name of a program that you’ve never (or rarely) used, don’t mention it in your resume.

I’m not saying you have to outwardly tell the hiring manager that you have no idea what they are talking about, I’m saying you should ignore it.

If the skill is incredibly important to the hiring manager, they will ask you about it during a phone or in-person interview. At that point, explain that you are not completely familiar with the program, but that you are confident that you will be able to gain proficiency quickly.

2. Program knowledge

You will often notice that specified program knowledge is designated as “an asset” in job postings.

The hiring manager is telling you that this is the program they use, if they don’t have to train you in the program – that’s great, but they are willing to train you if necessary.

In this scenario, do not tell the hiring manager that you know how to use the program. Just think about it; you show up for your first day and sit down at your desk only to realize that you have no idea what you’re doing. It’s okay if you have no idea how to use the program, they will train you!

If the program is a large part of the job itself and is listed as a required skill, don’t apply for the role. You are clearly not qualified, and making the hiring manager believe that you are, will only hurt you moving forward.

3. Industry knowledge

Many of us stick to the same field, but may jump into different industries.

This is common practice in the professional world, especially when you’re trying to find the role that you’ll really excel in. When applying for roles in different industries, don’t tell the hiring manager that you are familiar with the industry, or that you have past experience in the industry.

Let’s make this clear – just because you’ve stayed in a hotel, that doesn’t mean you know anything about the hospitality and tourism industry. When hiring managers are seeking individuals with industry experience, they are looking for someone who has worked in the industry.

Every industry is different and the requirements of your role will change on a per industry basis.

Also, in the case of many start-up companies, they are looking for someone with industry knowledge to lead them in the right direction for business development. Lying about your industry knowledge will reflect negatively on you, but it may also have a negative outcome on the business itself.

Our #1 piece of advice will always be to remain completely truthful on your resume. However, it is unrealistic to assume that everyone will follow this advice while trying to get ahead in life. So if you’re going to lie, just don’t lie in situations where you will get caught.

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