As children, we're told that lying is bad. Maybe we get caught in a lie by our parents or teachers and we get punished. Many people grow up with the reminder of the punishment and lying -- aside from little white lies such as "Yes, that hair color looks fantastic!" -- is something that most people would never, ever do.
But there are plenty of people who do lie. Every few years, someone gets caught in a lie by the nation's press, and we're reminded again that lying is bad. Think of disgraced "journalists" Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass and Janet Cooke, who actually won a Pulitzer Prize before her story was found to be a hoax. Martha Stewart, the folks who ran Enron, and Scooter Libby over at the White House are all recent examples of the consequences of lying.
Yet the lying continues.
The most recent example of lying to get ahead is Marilee Jones, a dean at MIT who resigned from her position when it was discovered that she had lied about her credentials to work at the university.
Aside from losing her job, Jones has lost something much more important: Her good name. Her brand, if you will. She'll never be able to apply for a job again without this following her.
If you lie on your resume, you most likely will not be exposed in major national publications. But you'll suffer the same fate that Jones will -- getting another job will be difficult. While former employers are legally not allowed to destroy your reputation when your job history is checked by a potential employer, it is possible to imply the circumstances around your departure without saying anything that violates the law.
So don't lie on your resume. Ever. Don't even embellish "just a little bit." Your resume is the document that represents you, and its integrity reflects your integrity. State your accomplishments, but don't overinflate your achievements. Don't make up statistics to prove your worth. Sell yourself as you truly are, and employers will respond in kind.