Many resumes contain fiction along with facts, according to a new survey from Approximately 3 in 10 Americans admit they have lied about key job qualifications. The most common lies were about years of experience (46%), followed by educational background (44%) and how long the applicant held a previous position (43%). Respondents also admitted to embellishing their skills or abilities (40%).

The number of resumes in circulation is increasing as the U.S. economy rebounds from pandemic-related job losses, and almost three-quarters (72%) of respondents said they lied on their resume to improve their chances of getting hired. Other common reasons included:

  • Lacked necessary qualifications (44%)
  • Got fired/parted on bad terms from previous employer (41%)
  • To add more keywords to resume (40%)

High-earners were more prone to dishonesty, with almost half (49%) of people earning between $100,000 and $149,000 and 46% of those earning more than $150,000 admitting to lying on their resume. This compares to only a quarter (25%) of those who earn less than $99,999 per year. Resume lies were most prevalent among those in the IT-related (55%) and finance-related (45%) fields. Across all fields, men (42%) were twice as likely as women (22%) to lie.

Education levels also seem to correlate with honesty levels, and respondents with the lowest and highest levels were more likely to lie. Forty-one percent of respondents whose highest level of education was middle school and 45% of those with a postgraduate degree lied, compared to only a quarter (25%) of those with a high school diploma and just over a quarter (27%) of those with a bachelor’s degree.

But job seekers should think twice before embellishing their job qualifications. Of the 1,250 survey respondents, 41% had their job offer rescinded once they were found out, and 18% were hired and then fired.