I lied on my resume to get my current job (I said I had a degree which I do not). I’m up for promotion and they want to see an updated resume. Should I leave it as is or tell the truth now?
May 2, 2022 | Career Tips
QUESTION: I lied on my resume to get my current job (I said I had a degree which I do not). I’m up for promotion and they want to see an updated resume. Should I leave it as is or tell the truth now?
I recommend telling the truth and preparing for the consequences. Living under a lie takes a mental health toll, impacts your integrity and you will eventually be found out. Execs who have been caught always wish they’d come clean earlier. This may be an opportunity to explain how you’ve championed the role without a degree. Perhaps you can evoke company policy change and advance at some point.
Busted! Come clean and accept responsibility for your actions. It’s up to your employer how they want to handle this. The worst thing you can do is perpetuate the lie. The second worst thing is to over-explain the situation.
View this dilemma as an opportunity. Update resume with the accomplishments you have made and highlight your contributions to the company and your department. Showcase the decision-making and leadership style that profiles your integrity and commitment. Correct the education content. Ask for a meeting and present your original motivations to mislead and how you and the company have benefited.
First, you need to be prepared for the fact that there could be repercussions either way. Worst case: This could cost you the promotion, your job, and your reputation. However, they might not notice or care (if the degree is not a requirement of the position). You should tell the truth; you had a lapse in judgment when initially hired and understand this may impact their decision.
So, this is a serious problem; and one that could get you fired. If it was an honest mistake, like you accidentally put a date of completion instead of attendance, maybe approach human resources and come clean. If you’ve been a solid producer, they may understand. However, if you choose to perpetuate a lie, my advice? Hold off on that promotion, finish your degree, or look for a new job!
Tell the truth now. Get out in front of it. Realize disclosing this now may lead to disciplinary consequences and possible termination, but to live with the fear of being exposed is worse. With that in mind, be strategic about how you approach it with your boss or HR. Don’t make excuses and be prepared to offer a plan to rebuild their trust including obtaining the degree you don’t have now..
Ethically, you should come clean. Unfortunately, lies often have consequences. People have been fired for lying on their resume, even after years of doing the work well. Consider talking to a lawyer, or a union rep, if available. Another option is to submit the updated resume and don’t say anything, unless asked. The resume could be a formality. If asked, though, tell the truth.
Tell the truth, not lies to cover lies. Correct your resume to control the narrative (share credits taken/left for the degree) and repair broken trust. Lying on resumes isn’t technically illegal as they not legal documents and you won’t be prosecuted for lying. However, you may be terminated like MIT’s Admissions Dean, Notre Dame’s football coach, Radio Shacks CEO, and others.
Submit an updated resume with correct and accurate information. It may be accepted without scrutiny of your earlier document. Of course, there is also the chance that you will be confronted about the discrepancy. In that case, you should come clean, admit to an earlier error in judgment, and let the chips fall where they may. In any event, you should prepare yourself now for a new job search.
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