resume falsehoods

Are young job seekers less ethical or just desperate?

July 12, 2011: 9:41 AM ET

Candidates aged 18 to 34 are more likely to fib on their resumes than older applicants, says a new poll. That raises some interesting questions.

By Anne Fisher, contributor

FORTUNE -- Desperate times call for desperate measures, which may include fudging the facts on resumes these days. With the unemployment rate officially at 9.2% (and actual unemployment, many experts say, far higher than that), it seems job hunters are increasingly tempted to exaggerate or fabricate to stand out from the crowd.

Fibbing isn't distributed evenly across all age groups, however. According to a survey of 2,026 adults across the U.S. by background screening firm TalentWise, younger applicants are more likely than older ones to think that embellishing a resume is okay: 45% in the 18 to 34 cohort, versus 34% for survey respondents overall.

Least likely to stretch the truth on a resume, the poll found, are people 55 or older, about one-quarter of whom (27%) said they might do it.

The resume items least likely to hold up under scrutiny: dates of employment; job titles and responsibilities; and, tied for third place, accomplishments during previous jobs and level of education.

Of course, there's nothing new about embroidering the facts on a resume, or even telling outright whoppers. Even before the recession got underway, over 60% of hiring managers told the Society for Human Resource Management they were finding all sorts of untruths in job applicants' CVs. More

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