Everyone wants to put their best foot forward when applying for a new job, so when you write your Resume, you might be tempted to embellish your job experience or twist the truth about your academic achievements. Perhaps you’re worried you might not be fully qualified for the job. But Resume padding or fudging, or lying on your Resume could have some unexpected and serious consequences.

It’s important for you to consider what kind of impression you actually want to make with a potential employer and what the legal implications of writing a potentially fraudulent Resume could be. In this post, we’ll go over three of the potential legal repercussions of lying in your job application, which can include fines, litigation, and even jail time.

Reason #1: You Could Face Fines

There is no such thing as a white lie in the eyes of an employer. Many employers consider lying in your job application to be fraud. During the hiring process, if an applicant is required to make a signed statement that the information they are providing to the employer is true, lying from that point onward becomes illegal.

In several states, if an employer determines an employee lied about their credentials (such as by claiming to have an accredited university degree that they don’t actually have), there could be legally enforceable consequences beyond termination of employment. For example, in many states, using a fraudulent degree is subject to a civil penalty, such as a fine.

Reason #2: You Could Be Sued

Aside from firing or fining an employee, a company can also sue an employee who misled them if they can demonstrate that it hurt their business.

For example, if an employee isn’t legally permitted to perform certain duties and a customer is physically or emotionally harmed as a result, the customer can sue the company for negligence and the company can hold the employee accountable, which may lead to the company suing the employee.

Some professionals, like doctors and lawyers, require a license from a state licensing board to practice their work. If a company determines a doctor or lawyer has lied about having the appropriate license and has practiced medicine or law without it, then this is a serious offense the professional can be sued for. In some cases, they may even face jail time.

Reason #3: You Could Go to Jail

Different states have different laws regarding fraud. In some states you can only be fined for lying about having a degree, but in other states a fine could be accompanied by something more severe.

In some states, if you claim to have a college degree you don’t actually have, it’s considered a misdemeanor. This could mean a fine of up to $2,000 and a sentence of up to six months in jail. In other states, the same offense is a higher misdemeanor (which could be classified as a felony). This could mean a sentence of up to a full year in prison.

Avoiding a Fraudulent Resume

In some circumstances, lying on your Resume could be considered fraud. Different companies, states, and courts will have their own perspectives on the matter, so a seemingly white lie could have unforeseen consequences. Something as simple as exaggerating your qualifications can have greater consequences than just getting fired.

The fact is that many companies are willing to invest in and train the right candidate even if they’re somewhat underqualified for the role. By being upfront about your skills, abilities, and qualifications in your Resume, you start building trust with the employer and avoid making any mistakes that could have legal consequences.

Posted by Chris Beeken

Chris is a professional writer at LawDepot and has a passion for communications, law, and the internet.