Everyone lies on their resume

Back to An Open Letter to Recruiters

By now, it should be clear to everyone that everyone lies on their resume – it is only a question as to what degree they have lied. The lying is so prevalent, we forgive candidates who we know are only trying to not be excluded by keyword matching. A typical example is listing the following in the “skills” section of a resume:

HTML, HTML5, CSS, CSS3, JavaScript, ES6

Listing these skills on your resume implies you know all of these technologies, but almost no one can actually claim this:

  • HTML5 is a very broad spec, with lost of different aspects. Does the candidate really have experience with IndexedDB, WebRTC, and the FileSystem APIs?
  • CSS3 is still being implemented, and features such Flexbox and Grid are only partially implemented in the most recent browsers. Does the candidate know how to use Flexbox and Grid to the current spec as implemented by all the browser vendors?
  • ES6 adds keywords and features to JavaScript, many of which not fully supported in all browsers. Does the candidate really have experience with the Reflect API and enhanced Object Literals?

The reason candidates add skills to their resume they do not or only partially have is because Recruiters us a simple keyword matching system to find candidates that match job descriptions. Unfortunately, most job descriptions only list what they desire, not a historical list of all technologies that lead up to the technology they currently want.

For example, if a candidate is honest and says:

HTML, JavaScript, some CSS

And the job description keywords are:


There is no match, and the candidate isn’t even considered by the recruiter. The trouble with this situation , is that most companies will accept a strong foundation in HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, as they know it will be relatively easy for the candidate to learn HTML5, CSS3, and ES6 on the job. Additionally, there are so few candidates with: HTML5; CSS3; and ES6; that learning on the job is sometimes the only way to get the type of employee you need.

I would ask recruiters to put down their keyword matching systems, and instead do a technical pre-screen before deciding if a candidate truly knows what they claim to know. This will save everyone a lot of time and frustration.

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