When is it okay to lie in your CV?
Alright, alight, this is a loaded question. And we all know the answer of course. It is never okay to lie in a CV. The answer is obvious and the consequences of telling porkies could put your job - and potentially career - in jeopardy.
Yet a survey by UK Higher Education Degree Datacheck found that 33% of graduates falsify important information in their CV. Reed Screening, who verify over 90,000 job applications a year, found 1 in 4 were not progressed through information that could not be confirmed or backed up. So, there is clearly a mismatch here between the obvious and what is actually happening.
The things that people lie about
The most common things that people lie about in their CV, according to Reed Screening, are dates of employment. Candidates masking a period of unemployment for instance. Next most common are job titles and exam grades. Given that a CV is essentially a record of employment and qualifications, this means pretty much everything is up for grabs to be pushed and pulled into something untruthful. Perhaps this is the result of an increasingly competitive recruitment marketplace?
Lots of people do lie in their CV
At CV Writers we carried out a survey on LinkedIn asking the question ‘when is it okay to lie on a CV?’ Whilst 83% of respondents said ‘never’. 12% said ‘small white lies’ were okay. So, a significant minority of job seekers will consider telling a fib in certain conditions. However, what one person considers a small white lie may in fact be a critical piece of information. For example, changing a 2:2 to a 2:1 degree, would this be a small white lie where a 2:1 was stated as a minimum requirement? 2% of respondents said it was okay to lie on their CV ‘anytime’.
Clear up unintentional discrepancies
Yet not all lies are intentional. If you have a long career history behind you, it is important to make sure your dates of employment are consistent between documents and social media. So double check all the information that may be used as part of an application to make sure there is consistency. It is quite easy to have mismatched information in this way so do not get caught out and double check dates, job titles and information – particularly between your CV and LinkedIn profile.
Why it is best not to lie
There are many good reasons why it is best not to lie on your CV. If you were to get found out, a significant lie in your CV – like about exam grades – could be enough to have you dismissed from a job. If that lie were to impair your ability to do the job you would soon enough get found out anyway. For example, if you said you were fluent in a particular language and this was found out not to be true it would soon become clear when in the role.
It is always better to be open and upfront. And you can usually find a positive angle on most things. For instance, if you did have a period of unemployment you may have been involved in some personal projects, volunteering for a charity, or developing skills in other ways that can be shown to be useful for an employer. Think around potential issues and ultimately, be more selective in the roles you apply for if you can’t, in full conscience, say you meet the minimum criteria for the role.
This article is written by Neville Rose, Director of CV Writers.
CV Writers are the official CV partner to ACCA Careers.