Having been in recruiting for just under 5 years, I have reviewed thousands of resumes and have conducted hundreds of interviews. Time and time again, I rely on the resume to tell me the initial story about the candidate. Once in the interview, I use their resume as a blueprint to their career. Our focus and the main piece of discussion is around the resume and the work they have stated they have done. Everything is covered: work dates, responsibilities, successes and accolades, education, etc. More often than you would think, you find discrepancies and false truths on the resume. Many candidates will claim that the discrepancies were "accidental" where as others are honest and fess up to exaggeration and lying to get their foot in the door. Whether by honest mistake or outright admittance, lying on a resume is a serious action that executives, hiring managers and HR professionals take as an unforgivable offense and that will more likely than not get your candidacy in the recycle bin with a permanent "do not interview" note.
Often times, some think that a little white lie on a resume is harmless and will go undiscovered. That is not the case. It is becoming commonplace for companies to utilize background, W2 and credit checks in addition to conducting in depth references with previous employers. No stone goes uncovered. Some may feel that this is an unfair practice utilized by companies and that it would make it impossible to get a job. Does this practice weed more people out? Absolutely. However, as a company, would you want to hire a candidate who started off the relationship with lies and fallacies? Absolutely not. Think of background checks and W2 requests as a Consumer Report and that organizations are merely being consciences buyers.
In these times of desperation where the job market is tight, some people feel that they need to lie on their resume in order to get a chance to interview. It is widely known that companies are stricter than ever with candidate qualifications and they are non-forgiving on their requirements. Therefore, lying on a resume has now become an art form for many job seekers. The New York Post recently published an article titled "Crock Stars" which discusses this phenomenon*. They too, note that many employers are screening resumes with a fine tooth comb and are only hiring candidates who have a clean background and honest resumes. Like your mother told you as a child, honesty is the best policy. If you want a job, be honest in communicating your background with prospective employers and find other ways of making your background relevant. Utilize any transferable experience you may have to get your foot in the door or clearly draw parallels between what the company is looking for and what you have in your background. If they deem your candidacy as not a fit, move on to the next opportunity. After all, liar, liar will not get your hired.