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Can you lie on your CV?

by Heat Recruitment

Landing your dream job in a competitive market is challenging enough by itself, but when rival candidates are stretching the truth on their CV to gain an edge, standing out is even harder. How are you supposed to compete with someone who scored straight A’s and subsequently became CEO of a world-renowned organisation? How is it that someone the same age as you stumbled into a senior role with seemingly no struggle?

While it’s possible that they are telling the truth, are well connected, or are simply confident and lucky enough to secure jobs far above their skill level, it’s much more likely that some of these achievements are subject to exaggeration.

So, if everyone else is fudging the facts on their professional résumé, are you justified in embellishing the truth on your own CV?

According to figures from YouGov, 10% of Brits admit to lying in their resume or cover letter when searching for a job, while another 2% “preferred not to say.” (let’s call that 12%.) When asked about the nature of these lies, 40% of the self-confessed fibbers admitted to twisting the truth about their education.

Other common CV lies included work history, job titles and the amount of time spent in one role. Even 29% of the original 10% claimed to have supplied false information in regards to their hobbies and interests, while another 3% lied about their age.

In the age of information, it seems strange that CV fraud would be on the rise: with so much data at their fingertips, it’s easier than ever for managers to get their facts straight before a decision is made. Unfortunately, many still take applications at face value. Findings from research conducted by the Higher Education Degree Data check revealed that only a third of UK employers performed background checks on candidates, allowing applicants to inflate the truth about their experience and qualifications.

In fact, only last year, former builder and probation officer Jon Andrewes was jailed for two years after it emerged that he had lied on his CV in order to gain senior management role in the NHS – seeing him earn more than £1m over ten years.

It may be tempting to turn a 2:2 into a 2:1, state ‘manager’ instead of ‘executive’ and replace ‘Netflix, drinking and video games’ with ‘reading, croquet and debating club’, but even a small misrepresentation could remove your application from consideration. While there may be a lack of scrutiny amongst certain employers, it’s not worth banking on. Besides, even if you make it through the first stage, keeping track of your web of lies won’t be so easy in a face-to-face interview.

Most of the time, your fibs will come back to bite you, whether it’s an employer asking you questions about your last position that are above your knowledge or a quick call to the referee provided.

When it comes to job applications, honesty is most certainly the best policy. Remember, it’s okay to have gaps in your CV and a few B’s and C’s in your education history. If an employer thinks you aren’t experienced enough for a certain position, they might be right – and that’s okay. Perhaps you need more time and experience in the field.

Rather than promoting the skills you don’t have, emphasise the qualities you do: an employer would much rather you were eager to learn and passionate about the company than all talk and no action.

At Heat Recruitment, we pride ourselves on just how open we are with candidates. Overall, it makes for a far better recruitment process and, ultimately, a superior hire for the clients we work with. We’ve developed a huge range of expert-led advice – why not take a look at our blog?

By Chris Birtle