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Millennials are twice as likely as other generations to lie on their resumes

Here's how to explain your job history without stretching the truth.
@samanthavaughan | Twenty20

Job hunting can be grueling game: the applications, the cover letters, the cold emails — and then, the waiting.

It's understandable that job seekers want to stand out, but how far should you really go? Would you ever lie on your resume? The answer might depend on your age.

GoBankingRates asked 1,003 people whether they've ever lied on their resumes and why. The vast majority, 85%, said they'd never done so, while 9% said they'd been tempted but never went through with it. A small slice, 5%, of overall participants admitted to lying on their application materials, but of that bunch over half were repeat offenders.

But broken down by age, one group was far more likely to have bent the truth on an application: millennials. They were found to be more than twice as likely to lie, with 11% admitting to having embellished their resumes.

So what exactly are people fabricating in hopes of landing an interview?

Work experience (38%) and dates of employment (31%) were the most common answers. Of note, more men than women said they'd lied about their job history (46% vs. 31%), and more women than men admitted to lying about their dates of employment (41% vs. 19%).

Why are job applicants lying on their resumes?

Hiding a gap in employment was the No. 1 reason why people lied on their resumes, according to the survey.

While it can be easy to see why applicants would want to avoid questions about a resume gap, TopResume career expert Amanda Augustine told CNBC Make It there's a better way to explain your career break without lying about it.

First of all, be straightforward and succinct. "Whenever possible, discuss what you achieved during that time to keep your finger on your industry's pulse to maintain, or even strengthen, your skills," she said.

Explain how you attended any professional events within your industry, enrolled in a skills course, volunteered, took up freelance work or even worked a side gig while job hunting during your break. If possible, emphasize what you were doing to continue growing as a professional, and how what you learned can be an asset to your new role and employer.

For a work break related to personal or medical reasons, be concise and move on. At most, Augustine said you can consider modifying your resume so it displays only the years where you worked somewhere, rather than both the month and year.

A close second reason why people lied on their resumes was to cover a lack of necessary job experience. But thanks to a tight labor market, candidates right now actually have a better shot than they have in the past competing for jobs where they may not precisely meet all the stated requirements.

In fact, 84% of employers said they would consider a candidate who lacked the required job experience, according to a survey from HR consulting firm Robert Half earlier this year. Also encouraging: 62% of employees surveyed said they had been offered a position even when they didn't meet all the qualifications.

The best way to go about applying for these jobs — without falsifying your experience — is to demonstrate how your current skills and experience can translate to the new role. Being candid about what you haven't done but also expressing enthusiasm to learn new skills can also help bridge the gap.

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