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Little White Lies: Are They Ever OK on Your CV?

Written by Andrew Arkley



Have you ever been tempted to embellish your CV to make yourself appear more highly qualified, skilled or experienced?

You’re not alone.

Research shows that around a third of people exaggerate their academic qualifications when applying for jobs.

That’s quite a significant percentage. If so many people are doing it, it can’t be that bad, can it?

Well, not only is it dishonest, it’s also fraud - which is illegal.

We’re not fans of lying or illegality, and we’re firm believers that honesty is the best policy. But if you still need convincing, here are some prime reasons NOT to lie on your CV:

You could go to prison

It might sound extreme, but lying on your CV could land you in the slammer for up to ten years.

Making changes like inflating your university grades or inventing extra-curricular activities may seem innocuous - but changes like this can be classed as ‘fraud by false representation’, which carries a maximum 10-year jail sentence.

It can be tough if you find your dream job and your qualifications don’t match up to the requirements.

But don’t be tempted to lie - we think you’ll agree the possible gains aren’t worth the risk of spending time in prison.

It could result in an embarrassing situation

Falsifying your degree results or inventing a former job role are fairly major lies - but what about much smaller ‘little white lies’?

Perhaps you claimed to have performed a certain task in a previous job, or said you attended a particular training session.

You may think these are just fleeting remarks and will go unnoticed - but what happens if a hiring manager brings it up at interview?

Chances are they’ll see through your lie in an instant. As well as being embarrassing, it may cost you the job.

You’ll always be looking over your shoulder

If you do get away with telling a lie on your CV and land yourself a job, you’ll spend the rest of your time at that company waiting for HR to come and get you.

Doesn’t sound like a particularly pleasant way to spend your days, does it?

It could hurt your career

You might think you’ll be able to get away with your lies because employers won’t bother to check.

This may be true in some cases - but the majority of employers will check references and look into your history to verify the information you’ve given them. If they find some of it is false, they’re unlikely to give you the job.

If you get the job and your employer finds out you’ve lied further down the line, you’ll probably get fired. And depending on the severity of the lie, your employer might get the law involved.

Future employers are unlikely to see you as a trustworthy candidate if you lost your previous job for lying on your CV - even if you’ve removed all the lies by that time.

It might come back to haunt you

Let’s say you told a minor lie on your CV - you claimed to be able to play jazz piano, for example.

You may think a throwaway comment like that will fly under the radar - employers don’t read the ‘hobbies and interests’ section anyway, right?

But what happens if your new boss is a huge jazz fan, and remembers your falsified piano skills? What happens if she asks you to entertain everyone at the office Christmas party with an improvised piano solo?

Don’t risk it - tell the truth!

What you should do instead

In today’s ultra-competitive job market, you may feel like you don’t have what it takes to stand out.

It can be disheartening to find job after job that asks for skills, qualifications or experience you don’t have.

But lying on your CV is not the answer. If you think your CV looks a bit thin, bolster it by volunteering or attending a training course to gain new skills.

If you have most of the requirements for a job but are missing one or two key skills or attributes, don’t say you’ve got them anyway - address the fact in your application and try to demonstrate how you fit the role in other ways.

No matter how tempting it is, the potential consequences of lying on your CV mean it’s just not worth it. Always be honest - it will pay off in the end.

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