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Is it ever OK to lie on your CV?

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Lizzie Tasker Blog

​When it comes to writing your CV, everyone knows how important it is to portray your skills and experience in the very best light. After-all the very purpose of your CV is to be a sales tool, designed to impress a potential employer enough to offer you an interview.

As we navigate these rocky economic times with spiraling costs of living, it’s often a priority to find work quickly.

With that in mind, it’s easy to see that it could be quite tempting to throw in a little white lie or two just to give your CV or application a boost.

But we’re here to tell you TO ABSOLUTELY NOT DO THIS.

Purposely including false information on your CV is not only unethical and unprofessional; it could also be illegal. At best, you might get discounted from future roles or lose your job, and at worst, you could face legal action.

It’s simply not worth it.

Common lies on CVs

  • Overinflating a job title

  • Exaggerating duties / job position

  • Claiming to have a particular qualification or skill

  • Overstating results or grades

  • Covering gaps in employment by changing dates

  • Falsifying references or testimonials

How will I get caught out?

HR and recruitment professionals work with CVs daily. They are skilled at quickly dissecting the information they need, and they’re also skilled at spotting things that don’t add up.

We live in an age where cross-checking information is easier and quicker than ever; ID, background checks and references are all routine parts of the onboarding process. Coupled with the information easily obtained from a quick online search and even the smallest of lies can quickly unravel.

Even if it’s not picked up prior to a job offer it doesn’t mean it won’t come back to bite you later.

Just last year, the Supreme Court ordered a former Chief Executive of a hospice to pay back nearly £100,000 in wages after he had falsely claimed he had a PhD as well as other degrees along with years of experience – having kept up these lies for a decade whilst working within senior positions in the NHS. In this case, a 2-year jail sentence was also handed down.

Whilst this is a particularly serious example, it demonstrates how important it is to only stick to the facts.

But I *really* want the job…

If you’re job-hunting and you come across your dream role, but you fall short of what the employer is asking for in advert or have a general feeling of not being enough in terms of experience or skills, resist any temptation to overstate, exaggerate or otherwise mislead / lie.

Our advice? Work with what you do have. Make sure your CV is the best it can be and tailor it to each individual job you’re applying for, highlighting the areas where you do match the person specification and job description, including any transferable skills.

If you have some – but not all - of the skills required in the advert, then apply anyway. You don’t know who else might apply, and often employers are open to taking someone on who has the drive and enthusiasm to learn.

We’ve also seen it before where candidates want to cover up a gap on a CV, or a period of time which could be seen as ‘job-hopping’, and our approach is that honesty is always the best practice. Address these things head-on and give thought to how you can frame anything like this in the most positive way possible.

After-all, when applying for jobs the worst that can happen is a no, and wouldn’t it feel much better to sleep soundly with a clear conscience? Knowing you secured a new job based on your actual merit, rather than lies.