Why You Should Never Lie on Your CV

Telling lies on your CV and why it’s definitely not a great idea to do so.

A recent survey has suggested that as many as 4 out of 5 CVs contain lies or untruths. Telling the odd untruth or embellishing the truth is nothing new on a CV – when you’re looking for a new job, your CV is a crucial part of your brand profile and it is important to achieve that competitive advantage over other candidates. Similarly, your LinkedIn profile is a crucial part of personal branding when looking for a new job and again, it’s an opportunity to embellish a little.

Never lie about your academic or professional qualifications on a CV

There are blatant lies on a CV where the candidate may make claims about academic or professional qualifications, which is clearly wrong and there is a good chance that these lies will get found out if pre-employment checks are carried out.

Similarly, some people lie about their job title because they want their title to suggest a greater level of seniority or authority. An Account Manager might decide on their CV to call themselves an Account Director to suggest that they have greater influence and it’s unlikely it will be questioned.

There are also situations where people make claims on their CV which are difficult to prove but an experienced recruiter may dig deeper and ask some quite probing questions and expose the fact that the statement was somewhat creative.

The statistics don’t lie, or do they?

We live in a world where we are obsessed with data, metrics and analytics and the best way that we can demonstrate performance improvement is by using metrics. However, as we all know metrics don’t tell the whole story but on a CV, it is extremely easy to put a “spin” around performance improvement by using a % measure.

An HR Manager may say they introduced “a talent management exercise that saw sales increase by 25%” or “the introduction of robust absence management controls reduced absence by 10%”.

From outside the business, we are powerless to dispute this data but similarly it is reasonable to assume that sales would have increased anyway or absence may have reduced by 10% but this may have been due to a long term ill health person either leaving the business or even passing away. Who can say? Lies, damned lies and statistics!

Experienced recruiters will not accept such statements at face value and will use searching questions for the purpose of validation and it will soon be apparent whether there is any merit in what is being alleged. Take a Sales professional… if a Sales professional cannot “sell” themselves, what chance is there that they can sell a Company’s products? Sales people are naturally self-confident and excellent at the way in which they portray themselves on a CV and use % measures to demonstrate their sales performance improvement year on year.

Similarly, it is too easy to exaggerate your part in a situation. Imagine that someone makes a claim on their CV that they “led a bid process that resulted in the Company securing a contract for £5 million”… pretty impressive. It is quite feasible that this statement may be accepted at face value but similarly, an experienced recruiter will want to ask further questions…

  • What was the profit margin on the contract?
  • What was the make-up of the team you were leading?
  • How did you price the tender and what was your decision making authority?
  • Who were you accountable to in the delivery of this bid?
  • What differentiated your bid from the competitors?

If they genuinely managed the bid, the candidate will have no difficulty giving comprehensive responses to all these questions but if they have embellished their part in the bid, it will become obvious very quickly.

The danger of the lying on your CV and getting exposed

We have seen candidates on the TV show The Apprentice very publicly have their CVs exposed as a complete sham and ripped to shreds by very polished business people who are highly respected by Lord Sugar for a reason. It’s all about reading between the lines.

So, CV or LinkedIn profile embellishment are not exactly new. However, if a candidate is greeted by an experienced interviewer, the likelihood is that they will dig deeper and ask more probing questions. Too many interviews develop into a chat with information taken at face value and too little attention is paid to asking open questions – who, what, why, how etc.

Effective competency based interviews will soon expose whether the candidate is telling the truth or putting a degree of “spin” around the situation to give themselves a better chance of getting the job. (Visit our Candidates Resources page for helpful guides to competency based interviews and techniques).

Think carefully about being able to substantiate the claims you make on your profile but just remember – if you’re going to “talk the talk” make sure you can “walk the walk”.

If you’re looking for a new job and need some help making your CV the best it can be, talk to us here at Vanilla.

We help people find their perfect job and match suitable jobseekers with businesses looking to hire the best candidates across our five specialisms – Sales, Marketing, Accountancy & Finance, HR and Office. ​We recruit throughout the East Midlands covering Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Rutland and the surrounding areas, especially Market harborough, Leicester, Corby and Kettering.

This is a guest blog written by Adrian Berwick at abcommercialhrsolutions.com