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Andrew Arkley|May 3, 2020

CV Lies: Is It Illegal To Lie On Your CV?

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Lying on your CV can be tempting; manipulating a figure here, extending an employment date there, who’s going to pick up on tiny CV lies?

However, contrary to your belief that little white lies are unnoticeable and therefore fine to put on your CV, they can land you in serious hot water.

Did you know that some lies on your CV counts as CV fraud, a crime punishable with large fines and even prison sentences?

In this blog we’ll run through the legality, morality, and the potentially serious consequences of lying on a job application.

Is it illegal to lie on your CV?

In short, yes. CV lies are illegal.

Making changes like inflating your university grades or changing previous job titles may seem small, but they can be classed as ‘fraud by false representation’, which carries a maximum 10-year jail sentence.

The Fraud Act 2006 states ‘A person is in breach of this section if he dishonestly makes a false representation, and intends, by making the representation to make a gain for himself or another, or to cause loss to another’

So what exactly makes a lie on a resume fraud? ‘A representation is false if – it is untrue or misleading, and the person making it knows that it is, or might be, untrue or misleading.’

When you lie about your employment history, you’re aiming to secure yourself a job and stop other candidates getting that same job, which is illegal. 

And you can’t claim ignorance of lying either. Trying to cover up by saying you accidentally wrote down a 2.1 college degree rather than a 2.2 won’t wash and you could find yourself seeking legal advice.

CV fraud is especially important when it comes to lying about qualifications which are essential to carry out the job, such as making up fake degrees and certifications- and is where the big fines and sentences tend to come in.

Can employers check your grades?

Employers can, and sometimes will, check your grades going back as far as A-levels, even if you took them 8 years ago.

This is likely because qualifications are some of the most lied about things on a CV, and so a quick check by the employer can catch people out.

So just how can employers check your grades? By using the following methods:

  • Outsource specialist companies to carry out background checks
  • Ask you to send proof of your qualifications like degree transcripts, award certificates etc.
  • Contact your school, college, university directly to ask for proof

What might happen if you lie on your resume?

Let’s consider some scenarios that might arise if people lie on their CV.

1. Embarrassment during interviews

A major likelihood of lying on your CV is embarrassment and some uncomfortable situations where you get caught in the lie.

Say you want to make yourself look interesting by adding ‘dressmaking’ to the hobbies and interests mentioned on your CV – and your interviewer asks what types of patterns and fabrics you use. 

It’s likely going to result in you floundering, grasping at straws, and a lot of raised eyebrows from the interviewers.

Or perhaps you think the short introductory French class you took 10 years ago should go on your CV as ‘basic French’.

When the interviewer asks you a basic question in French that you can’t even understand, let alone answer, you’re going to be left red-faced.

Experienced interviewers will know you’ve lied straight away about something, and this will cast doubt on you as a person and put your whole application under suspicion.

A better option is to actually take up an interesting hobby and learn a lot about it – that way if you’re asked about the hobby, you can tell the truth and your enthusiasm will come across.

2. You’re removed from the application process/ job offer revoked

A likelihood of your CV lie being discovered is you’re dismissed from the process.

Unsurprisingly, interviewers don’t appreciate dishonesty or being deceived, and are not likely to trust you in future if they’ve caught you lying once. 

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3. Blacklisting

If you’re caught lying, you’ll also likely be blacklisted by the company, with little chance at getting another interview with them.

If you’ve gone through a recruitment company then when the recruiter gets feedback from the employer, they’ll probably want to terminate their relationship with you as they won’t want to put you forward for other jobs.

4. Getting caught later – with bigger consequences

Say you lie on your CV and you did get the job. Any skills and work experience related lies are at risk of getting exposed at any point once you start working.

Maybe you mentioned you managed a large social media campaign for your previous employer, and then when asked to replicate its success you can’t come up with any ideas.

Or your boss asks you a basic question related to your role you absolutely should know the answer to.

Suspecting you’ve lied on your CV is grounds for dismissal. What’s more, you’ll struggle to find future employment once you’ve been let go for lying on your CV. 

Some fraud prevention systems can keep your data on file for years and years afterwards, so you might be flagged the next time you send off a job application.

The company can also take legal action against you.

Gaps in employment history background checks

There’s plenty of valid reasons to have gaps on your CV, including unemployment, mental illness, taking time to care for an ill person, travelling etc. 

However, it’s undeniable that CV gaps don’t look great for potential employers without valid explanation- so the temptation is to cover up the gaps altogether.

You might want to do that by extending the dates of the employment before, and moving your next job’s start date back a few months. However, this once again is illegal. 

This CV lie is very easy for potential employers to uncover – all it takes is the employer contacting one of the previous employers to verify the dates you worked there and the house of cards comes tumbling down.

Some might even outsource background checks which look at gaps in employment history.

Lying about your salary

So the recruiter asked you about your current salary, and it’s a bit below the salary of the job you’re applying for?

Lying about your salary is the wrong way to go about making yourself look more valuable and worthy of higher paid roles.

Lying about your salary can be revealed when the potential employer contacts your current employer and asks for a reference.

CV Lies: Is It Illegal To Lie On Your CV? – Conclusion

Essentially, lying on your CV in an attempt to secure employment is not worth the hassle. 

The implications of getting caught are far-reaching, ranging from embarrassing situations to losing out on jobs, to losing your job, to prison sentences and huge fines.

You can make your CV stand out without lying – let PurpleCV professional CV writers create you a bespoke CV.

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