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Lying On Your Resume: What Are The Consequences?

Tailoring your resume to a job you’re applying for is one thing, but making up an entire career history along with your qualifications is a whole different ballgame. And as it turns out – it can land you in jail. A Judge in South Australia has sentenced a woman to at least 1 year in prison for lying on her resume. In this case, she secured a high-ranking government job with false credentials, a false LinkedIn profile and even posed as her own reference.

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How a few convincing lies landed a woman a $270,000 job

Veronica Hilda Theriault applied for a high-level job with South Australia’s Department of Premier and Cabinet. The role was for a Chief Information Officer (CIO) and attracted a $270,000 salary. Theriault applied for the position with a resume which claimed more than 5 years’ experience in a similar role. Further, when the Department undertook reference checks, Theriault impersonated her nominated referee. Unsurprisingly, she gave a glowing reference. Theriault also used a fake photo on her LinkedIn account.

A month later, the Department caught wind that something was amiss and dismissed Theriault. By this time, Theriault had already earned $33,000 of her yearly 200k+ salary. It also came to light that Theriault supplied the Department with a forged payslip to negotiate a higher salary. After ICAC investigated the matter, Theriault was charged with deception, dishonesty and abuse of public office.

Is fabricating your resume illegal?

It can be tempting to embellish a few things on your resume, but it’s never wise to lie. Lying on your resume is not itself illegal, but some employers (notably Government Departments) have now introduced a $5,000 fine for lying on a job application.

Even though lying on your resume is not an offence on its own, many other methods job seekers use when lying in their job applications is. This includes forging or providing false documents, such as forged reference letters or a doctored academic degree. In the case of Theriault, the fact that she had lied to obtain a role where she had access to highly sensitive information warranted a harsher penalty.

Finally

It goes without saying that when an employee is found to have lied on their resume, they are usually terminated. However, beyond termination, this can also lead to financial and criminal penalties. The simple lesson here is that lying is never worth it, even for the most appealing job. Because the more in-demand a certain job is, the more checks the employer is likely to do. Further, it’s inevitable that your employer will notice when your performance in the role doesn’t quite live up to what your resume claims.

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