Can You Plagiarize On a Resume to Get the Job?


Is resume copying or plagiarism ethical and can it help you get the job?

Writing a resume from scratch is a daunting task. That’s why numerous websites offer resume samples for all industries and professions – to inspire the confused job-seekers and give them a clue of how an effective resume should look like. Some people go even further and copy the entire paragraphs from someone else’s resume or job posting.

However, copying the job listing or standardized job description, let alone the text from someone’s resume without their permission, isn’t good for your resume. Today, our professional resume services are going to explain why you should never use copy-and-paste content in the resume. We’ll also talk about how to use resume templates and examples to improve your resume without plagiarizing. 

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Can I plagiarize the resume samples in my resume?

The short answer is no. Here’s why you shouldn’t use the content from other resumes in writing your own:

➤ A copied resume cannot show your real value

When you copy job responsibilities or a summary from a resume you’ve found online, you lose the chance to describe your unique knowledge, experience and skills. Of course, copying the generic statements from some resumes website is much easier than giving the issue much thought and writing about your experience from scratch. However, such a resume won’t show the achievements, wide range of responsibilities and contributions which are unique to you and could actually differentiate you from similarly qualified candidates.

➤ Copied resume makes you look like everyone else

All effective resumes are unique. If you accurately described your experience without using templates, such a resume will undoubtedly stand out from the pile of cookie-cutter applications. Look through your job descriptions. If they don’t sound like a generic description of a person in the same position, it indicates that your resume is unique in a good way. On the flip side, if you copied the phrase “Assisted clients with inquiries via phone and email”, there’s every chance that dozens of other call center reps have used it either. As a result, such resumes look similar to each other and aren’t of much interest for a hiring person.

➤ Online resumes might not be allowed to copy

Not all information you’ve found online can be copied, and resumes aren’t the exception. Using the content from someone else’s resume or the website that doesn’t allow copying is unethical. Like a good college essay, an effective resume should be free from plagiarism.
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➤ The employer can find out

Recruiters review dozens of resumes on a daily basis. They have an eye for cliché phrases and sentences that people copy from the internet to use in their resumes. A resume copied from online sources won’t help you to impress the prospective employer. Employers can also use tech tools to check the similarities with other resumes. The fact that you’ve copied online samples in your resume sends the wrong message to an employer. It shows that you have poor writing skills, aren’t ready to invest time to write a strong resume or aren’t much interested in a position. Learn how to become an ideal employee.

Employers use plagiarism resume checker

This isn’t a standard practice, but some employers can use plagiarism checking software to check the applications for uniqueness. And if it becomes evident that your resume content isn’t original, your candidacy will most likely be rejected. If you’ve submitted the resume similar to your colleague’s or friend’s, chances are you both will be eliminated from the competition.

Why? For companies, resume plagiarism shows that you are willing to lie on the chance of getting the job. They might also assume a range of other negative characteristics, from poor written communication skills to lack of attention to detail and weak professional ethics. Therefore, plagiarism will most likely lead to rejecting your resume.

It isn’t a good idea to copy and paste job descriptions into a resume

Knowing that many companies now use the ATS, some job-seekers try to trick the system by inserting the job advertisement into their resume. Or, they use a standardized job description because it sounds pretty much similar to what they do at work. Needless to say that neither of these tactics can help your resume get noticed in a good way.

Although it might help you pass the electronic selection, a human recruiter will easily recognize the language from the job ad or a job description. They will interpret it as laziness to write your resume or assume that you haven’t done anything significant at work and hide behind the generic descriptions. This kind of plagiarism is of any help for securing you an interview as well.

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Can you copy a company description from their website?

It’s a good idea to describe the previous employers in 1-2 sentences to give the hiring manager a much broader perspective of your experience. However, avoid copying these sentences from the company’s official website. The difference in writing style and word choice between these descriptions and the rest of the resume content will be obvious, letting the hiring person assume that you didn’t give these descriptions enough effort. Rewrite the company descriptions using your own words.

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Why plagiarism in a cover letter is not acceptable

While a resume is a standardized application document, the cover letter has a purpose of revealing your personality. In other words, cover letters are used to show your motivation for applying for a job, mention the career details which left off the resume, or simply tell a story. A cover letter is all about what makes you unique and different from your competitors, and plagiarizing the entire letter or even one paragraph won’t help you achieve this goal. Just like with resumes, employers easily spot cookie-cutter cover letters and don’t give them enough considerations. Let alone the ethical side of things – you are passing someone’s work as your own.

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As you see, using copied content in your resume or cover letter is never worth it. Using what someone else has written make you look like everyone else, prevents you from showing off your genuine strengths and can actually cost you a job. However, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use resume templates and samples at all. Here’s how to get the most out of them and make your resume unique at the same time. 

Go-to rules to avoid resume plagiarism

➤ Use resume samples as a source of inspiration only
Online resume samples serve as a perfect example of how an effective resume should look. Review them before writing your own to get a sense of resume format, word choice, sentence structure and information included. However, avoid borrowing the sentences or entire paragraphs.

➤ Be specific

To help your resume stand out, avoid generic phrases and clichés. Focus on specific accomplishments, workplace experience and skillsets. Adding specific information from your career background will make your resume one of its kind.

➤ Check the copyright notice

If the website owner does not allow copying or using the information, avoid doing so. Similarly, avoid copying from resumes of other people at all costs.

➤ Don’t rely on resume builders

Online resume builders are websites that offer to create a fancy resume. They also offer pre-written bullet points for all industries which you should avoid. Many people are using these builders too, so these statements are not unique.

➤ Use templates carefully

Some websites offer you to download free templates for personal use. You may use these templates, but keep in mind that many other job-seekers are using them either. So, it’s a good idea to customize the design and structure of the document.

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