If you’ve been looking for a job for some time, you may be tempted to update your resume by making up experience that you don’t actually have. Don’t do it! It’s never a good idea to lie or even exaggerate on your resume. Recruiters and hiring managers are trained to spot these types of discrepancies. And once you make a bad impression, it will be virtually impossible to erase it. Here are three of the biggest pitfalls to avoid when you write or revise your resume.

Never add a fake job to your resume.

Hiring managers and recruiters routinely check your past workplaces to verify your employment. With a little research or a quick phone call, your lie will soon be uncovered and you can say goodbye to that job interview. Even if you’ve asked a friend or relative to cover for you and pretend that you worked for them, the risk of being found out and losing out on a job offer is just too high. The fix: If you want to add more recent experience to your resume but don’t currently have a job, you can begin taking online classes or doing volunteer work. Make sure to emphasize how your coursework fits your desired job industry, or how your volunteer work makes use of your potential job skills.

Don’t list skills you don’t have.

You may think that hiring managers will be impressed by a long list of skills, and you’re right. After past job experience, your skill set is one of the next biggest factors that an employer will look at. But before you add skills you don’t have to your resume, think again. If you lie about your QuickBooks expertise or your Microsoft Project knowledge, you can bet your lack of experience will quickly be discovered at a new job. The fix: It’s fine to add new skills to your resume if you’re actually learning them or using them. You can take online lessons or download trial software to teach yourself the skills you want to add. You can even create mock projects and build a portfolio to practice your skills. That way you can list them truthfully on your resume, and you can discuss them honestly in an interview.

Never list fake references.

You may feel pressured to come up with a list of references for your resume or for a hiring manager, and that can be a challenge when you don’t have recent work experience. Before you ask a friend or relative to pretend to be a reference for you, consider this: your references are interviewed just like you are. And an employer will soon find out whether they have really worked with you or not just by talking to them. The fix: Instead of including references on your resume, simply make a note at the bottom that says “References available”. That way you don’t have to come up with your list immediately. Also, be creative when it comes to finding references. If you’re still in school or have recently graduated, you can list professors, classmates, or other school staff members as references, as long as you have worked closely with them. If you’ve done volunteer work, list fellow volunteers or staff members that you have worked with. You can even consider senior members of your church or other organizations who know you well. As long as a reference can speak about you professionally and comment on your work ethic, you’ll be set.

If you feel like your resume lacks experience and you’re not sure where to start, then contact us today to land a new job in Hawaii. At Bishop & Company, our expert staff will help you overcome any challenges you may have with your resume.