Young woman with sad expression holding a mask expressing cheerfulnessWhen it comes to lying and the job search, data shows that many people don’t believe “honesty is the best policy.” Although a common practice by job seekers, the numbers don’t lie:

-53 percent of resumes and job applications contain falsifications

-78 percent of resumes are misleading

-40 percent of resumes inflate salary claims

-29 percent of resumes show altered employment dates

-21 percent of resumes list fraudulent degrees

And an additional 70 percent of college students reported that they would lie on a resume to get the job they wanted. Is this shocking, no? We’ve all told a little white lie (or two), but perhaps what I’m about to share next will surprise you.

I came across a topic on this “Ask a Manager” blog where a job seeker asked for advice on a recruiter who asked her to lie for him. She wrote:

Lately I’ve been troubled by a recruiter who appears to be encouraging me to lie about my qualifications to the companies he wants to submit me to. The first time, I lacked many of the qualifications listed in the job description and told the recruiter that I didn’t think that position was suitable for my level of experience, but he insisted that I had those qualifications because he looked at my resume (which didn’t say anything at all about those qualifications), and encouraged me to just say I had experience with those technologies and then look them up on the Internet before the interview. He also pressured me with repeated calls, asking me to give him permission to forward my resume to the job without even telling me anything about the job other than the list of qualifications required.

She went on to ask whether or not she should report this recruiter to the company he works for or some type of “blacklist for bad recruiters?” (Can you imagine?)

Now, as the numbers showed, many people don’t have a problem with lying when it comes to getting a job, but what about when someone else (seemingly in a higher position of authority) asks you to lie about your skills and qualifications. If you have no problem with stretching an employment date here and adding a false certification there, surely it’s no trouble at all to embellish the truth at the request of a recruiter—someone in the business, who knows the business—right?

Absolutely wrong.

Just how you’re taking a major risk if you lie on your resume, you could be taking an even greater risk of public embarrassment and shame if you lie for a recruiter.

First of all, lying just isn’t worth it because, somewhere down the line, a company is sure to find the truth. And you don’t want to be years into your career working at your dream job or running a company only to be exposed that you lied about something in your past and now your entire career, reputation, credibility and brand are snatched away from you.

And if you lie for a recruiter, your hopes of gaining employment can possibly never get fulfilled. Let’s say, at a recruiter’s request, you lie about skills and experiences you don’t possess. Then, during a background and reference check, your lies are exposed by a company. Not only will that recruiter be possibly banned from working with the company again, your credibility as a job seeker will be tarnished. If the “exiled” recruiter had a reputation of placing bad candidates who didn’t have the skills they claimed, his or her whole entire roster of candidates may be affected. Companies may not want to work with any of the recruiter’s applicants. This means, as a job seeker, you now have an even slimmer chance of landing a job (at least in the field where the recruiter specialized).

It’s just not worth it.

Like the blog owner advised: If a recruiter asks you to lie for him/her, you don’t want to work with this type of person anyway. Besides, if a recruiter needs you to lie to “fit” a role, he or she wasn’t very qualified to properly place candidates in the first place.

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