Your resume itself is not a legally binding document. This means you can put whatever you want on it. Yes, you can lie on your resume and it’s unlikely you’d ever be criminally prosecuted. There could certainly be other repercussions from lying or exaggerating on your resume such as getting fired, being embarrassed, and forfeiting what could have been a good job reference. But you probably won’t go to jail.
This is why most employers ask that you complete an actual job application, regardless of whether or not you submit a resume. They WANT a job application. A job application often requires you to sign that everything you’ve included is accurate. When you sign this, this now is a legally binding document.
When you attach your resume to a job application as a supplement – As an addendum, now you’ve bound your resume to your application. At this point, your employer can hold your accountable for any lies on your resume because you have signed off that it is accurate.
Holding you accountable means there is the potential you could be criminally charged with things such as perjury or fraud and whatever else they decided to charge you with. You can be criminally charged and can also be taken to court for any relevant civil damages. What I mean by that is – there is criminal court and civil court. You could be charged in either or both.
If you have a professional license, it has the potential of being revoked. The impact of your lie or lies will impact how severe the consequences may be for you.
The higher level the job, the more serious the consequences of you lying on your resume will be. The higher level the job, the more likely you will be criminally prosecuted. It’s important to note that WHAT you lie about matters. WHO you lie to, also matters. For example, lying on a federal job application in most cases can cause more trouble for you than lying on a private sector application.
Criminal laws vary by state. In some states, having a fake degree can be a felony. In Kentucky, you could go to jail for 18 months.
And let me tell you about Texas – There’s a law called The Fraudulent, Substandard, or Fictitious Degree crime. What this does is prohibit you from using a fake college degree or one that doesn’t belong to you in an attempt to get a job or for some other advantage. You can go to jail for up to 6 month and be fined $2,000. Kentucky and Texas are NOT the only states with these types of laws. You don’t have to worry about this if you’re not lying, but if you are, beware. You already know that’s wrong and unethical. It’s not worth it. There are other ways to get the job and career you want.
If you are found to have gotten your job through lying, if you later try to sue your employer for something, your rights to sue them may be forfeited because you lied to get the job in the first. In some situations if you’re asked and you fail to admit or disclose that you were fired for cause, that could be considered a felony. If the job application asks you to disclose – and you don’t disclose, depending on the state or whom you’re lying to – that can be a big issue or a huge issue.
If you want to see an example of someone who lied and got sent to prison for it, look up the story of Wayne Simmons.
In short, don’t lie on any of your job application materials. Don’t lie about where you worked, for how long. Don’t provide fake references or fake degrees.
We know this already, I’m just saying for those who are not aware; it’s not worth it! Just do the right thing.
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