The newest trend in resume writing is to lie.
We're not talking about a slight exaggeration here and there. We're talking outright lies told very convincingly, especially about academic degrees that were never earned.
To pull this off, some unscrupulous candidates frustrated by a difficult and uncertain job market, have gone so far as to provide their prospective bosses with toll-free telephone numbers that are answered by Web site operators who "verify" the academic qualifications listed on the resume, reports Reuters. Others have actually hacked into university Web sites to add their names to the list of graduates.
But before you decide to embellish your background with out and out lies that you have rigged to be "verified" as if they were the truth, know this: You could be committing a felony. Get caught and convicted, and it could land you in jail. And that's not all. If you claim to have an academic degree you didn't earn and it leads to higher pay, you could be accused of criminal fraud by your employer--even if this is discovered years later.
"Candidates are allegedly breaking the law to get a particular job or promotion, and that is pretty much going to the full extent of the limit," Scott Pustizzi, vice president at The Human Equation, Florida-based human resources consultants, told Reuters.
Think only a handful of people are doing this? You may be surprised. Reuters reports that the background search firm ADP Screening and Selection Services, found that more than 50 percent of the people on whom it conducted employment and education checks in 2003 had submitted false information, compared with about 40 percent in 2002.
Companies are fighting back. Their best weapon against fraudulent resumes is a more thorough background check of candidates and even long-time employees. This includes not only references, but also criminal checks. If you're job-hunting, you will likely have to prove you really did earn your degree. Expect to be asked to have an official transcript of your grades sent by your alma mater directly to the prospective employer--without going to you first.