Blog #2: The Lack of Ethics in Resumes and Why It’s OK

simpsons(Image: “Angels on My Shoulders.” 2011. Web. Courtesy of Daniebob on WordPress)

Is it acceptable to lie to a potential employer for an opportunity at your dream job? The right answer is no, but my answer is YES.

“The percentage of people who lie to potential employers is substantial” (Tomassi), and who can blame them? Employers intimidate us in ways that slightly encourage us to shade the truth. In fact, “40 [percent] of all resumes aren’t altogether aboveboard” (Tomassi). Given the circumstances of seeking for a job in a highly-competitive market, it is understandable that one of the ways people influence their resumes is by lying. “Omission is one of the most common forms of lying in the workplace” (Goman) because people want to avoid discrimination. Let’s consider Joanne Rowling. Most of us know her as J.K. Rowling. She omitted her name with the intention of misleading the reader of her sex. “Joanne Rowling had somehow gotten the idea that books by women were not as widely read or taken seriously as books by men—or that boys shy from reading female authors—and so had chosen to be known by her gender-neutral initials” (Prose).

As common as omission is in a resume, the same is not recommended for resumes internationally. In fact, resumes between the US and Asia differ tremendously. My father lives in Vientiane, Laos, and is the chairman of our family’s distribution company, KP Co., Ltd. During the summer, I visited him at the peak of hiring season and saw stacks of resumes on a desk. The sample resume below is a very similar template of one that I saw; instead of omitting personal details, they emphasize them. Click the photo below for a closer look.

International resume
(Image: “English Teacher Resume Review.” 2014. Web. Courtesy of An’nisa Khairani Haningsih on All Docs)

“Different countries expect and require certain information to be present on resumes, and therefore it is critical that your new resume meets the unique requirements of that country” (Redelman). Thus, resume-writing conventions need to adapt to their current marketplace whether it is an entirely different culture or within different domestic fields of study. It is important because the standard “one-size-fits-all” template is no longer enough to capture everyone’s attention. The field in which you apply influences the multimodal tools in your resume. For example, the following resume emphasizes the applicant’s talent in graphic design. Obviously, this would be an inappropriate template for legal professions.

Graphic designer resume
(Image: “Graphic designer resume sample.” 2014. Web. Courtesy of Vizual Resume.)


Between the two resume examples, there are differences in the contents. The second resume does not include a self-photograph or personal details that risk discrimination; though, both applicants could have lied by embellishing their experiences. This raises the question: how do we know that our competitors will not be lying in the same way that we are? “[We are] lied to from 10 to 200 times per day” (Firestone), so there is a great possibility that people are more likely to stretch or bend the truth on their resumes. After all, it becomes a cutthroat atmosphere when people are after the same job. However, I do believe that we have a moral obligation to our employers by telling them truthful experiences and giving them valid credentials so as not to waste their time interviewing us, or further, investing time and money to train us for our jobs. I think that the reason for interviewing someone is not only to get to know the applicant, but also to cross-examine the details of his/her resume. So, if you are going to embellish your experiences and credentials, then it is your sole responsibility to defend your claims.

While there are similarities between what U.S. and international applicants will do to make their resumes standout, there are differences in addition to the unique resume requirements of each country. When a U.S. citizen seeks for a job abroad, or when an international applicant seeks for a job in the U.S., there will be dilemmas that could prevent each from getting a job. For example, one trying to understand and adhere to the laws of that country and risking law violations on behalf of the business. I think that in whichever country you are, you should follow their rules. This applies to U.S. and international corporations and employees.

Another issue is language barriers that lead to miscommunication. What if a word or phrase in your resume means something entirely different in another country? It could offend the employer, or you may even have lied about your credentials unknowingly. Would you consider this lying?

Whether we think of ourselves as liars or not, “we certainly shade the truth to make it fit more comfortably into our lives—to keep it from disrupting anything from our careers to our relationships to our afternoons” (Firestone).


Sources Cited


Firestone, Lisa. “Shades of Truth: The Many Ways We Lie.” Huffingtonpost. Web. 5 Sep. 2014 <>.

Goman, Carol Kinsey. “The 10 Most Common Workplace Lies.” Forbes. Web. 5 Sep. 2014 <>.

Prose, Francine. “How Do We Judge Books Written Under Pseudonyms?” NYTimes. Web. 5 Sep. 2014 <>.

Redelman, Gavin. “How Resumes Differ from Country to Country.” Expatarrivals. Web. 5 Sep. 2014 <>.

Tomassi, Kate DuBose. “Most Common Resume Lies.” Forbes. Web. 5 Sep. 2014 <>.

4 thoughts on “Blog #2: The Lack of Ethics in Resumes and Why It’s OK”

  1. You make an excellent case for stretching the truth on a resume, especially considering the varying perspectives you incorporated into this post, and the various reasons someone would want to lie on their resume.

    I think you raised some very important questions – do we even realize when we’re being dishonest or unethical in creating our resumes? And how exactly would an employer define or identify dishonesty in a potential employee’s resume? With the rise of technology and increased globalization, those seeking jobs face new challenges and must respond to them or prepare for them in inventive ways, such as you mentioned with the language barrier issue.

    Overall, your post was extremely informative, well formulated, and thought-provoking. I enjoyed reading!

  2. While reading your blog I must say, you have definitely raised some great points. The job market is a highly competitive place. While everyone is distorting the truth on one hand it doesn’t make it right. On the other hand, not doing it could put a candidate at a major disadvantage compared to other contenders. I am tempted to say that one’s pride in what you do, has to be presented to potential employers in a way that emphasizes on important details to this specific employer.

    Moreover, you mentioned, “Omission is one of the most common forms of lying in the workplace”. I couldn’t agree more due to the fact that the world is a biased place. Discrimination happens way too often, for example I recently read an article about a man who was searching for a job for years on end. After changing one letter in his resume he received an overwhelming response from companies. By changing his name from José to Joe (a less ethnic name) he was actually being considered for jobs. It’s surreal to think that by omitting one letter from a resume this man’s life had been changed. However, this is the world that we live in.

    Last but not least, I appreciated the fact that you added something more personal to you and showed what is happening in other countries of the world (in your case Laos). When thinking about the arduous challenges these people go through from having to display their personal lives on a resume such as gender, pictures, and marital status it makes me feel quite fortunate to live in a country where we are protected by laws against such things. Nevertheless, nothing is perfect and discrimination still occurs all around us and you wouldn’t even notice. Much like the case, which I brought up about employers judging you by your name or where you live among with the countless things, which might catch their eye.

    All in all, this is a great informative article.

    “He dropped one letter in his name”

  3. It was a great idea to incorporate international and the United States resume together. It is a totally other world when you get out of country. Like you said, “some words in resume could offend that person in another country…”. While some countries are very strict for the hiring process. I know that in South Korea (I am half korean), it is very hard to get hired into the Korean airlines. Not only do your grades have to be above 4.0, but you have to be a certain height, certain weight, and very beautiful (i.e. plastic surgery). So, they do not judge base on your resume but on looks as well.
    I also enjoyed when you compared two different resumes. It reminds me of my job field in one more year. I am studying Public Relations, and I have two different kinds of resumes. For Turner Broadcasting Adult Swim, your resume must stand out (just like the graphic artist). Yeah it should have previous experiences in that field, BUT it should stand out from the others. I’ve heard stories of people sending in beer, pizza boxes, and coke bottle resumes. How bizarre right? That goes into the category of being creative for your field. Now…. on the other hand, I have a professional resume for businesses. Its like a dilemma between the two.
    Furthermore, I really enjoyed reading your post and I also love how you incorporated pictures, as well as, the actual sample of a resume. Great job!!

  4. I really enjoyed reading your blog about the lack of ethics in resumes, but why you felt that was acceptable. First, I liked the picture of Homer Simpson at the top of the blog because it is fun and relatable considering the devil and angel sitting on either side of him. Do you lie to gain an advantage or stay true to yourself and potentially miss out on your dream job? Second, I enjoyed the wide range of topics you covered, from resume design to international resume standards.
    First, regarding resume design, I think this is interesting because sometimes the way to standout does not need to come only from embellishment. The example you used in your blog was effective because it is probably the most perfect resume scenario where something like this would be very successful. Someone looking to work in graphic design could simply construct a beautiful resume, like the one you displayed, and gain an immediate advantage over someone with loads of credentials. Of course, credentials of his/her own should be included, but even if they do not compare to other applicants, an example of your work could put you in the driver seat. Yes, people need to have experience, but the impact you may or may not have on the job will not be noticed until you actually produce work. However, if you show what you can do before obtaining the job, your employer will likely be more excited to offer you a position, or pushed away if your design is crap.
    Next, regarding international resume standards, I found this very informative for two reasons. One, I know close to nothing about resume standards outside the US so it was interesting to read how different other countries can be with what to highlight and what to omit. Second, I am very interested in applying for work outside the United State after graduation so this blog was also beneficial to my own situation. It makes sense that resumes in Asia emphasize personal details instead of omitting them because business there is run differently. In particular, employers considering residents outside of Asia need to be sure that their candidate is not only qualified for the job, but also capable of living in a foreign country. Understanding the laws and customs of other countries is essential to prospering as a foreigner. Do you have any insight on resume standards in any other parts of the world? Why do they require such information from residents of their own country?

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