Employment

Editorial – Lying on a CV

[one_fourth last=”no”]“Certainly, understanding the vernacular of the working world is essential to job hunting, and an appreciation of the framework you are working within”

Participant[/one_fourth]Lying on a CV – one of those topics that have always perplexed me. It seems that no matter who, and how many people you ask, they will all ask you never to do it, and that you will never go far using lies on your CV. This is the official half of the story, but there is another half, unofficial. Off the record, a lot of people admit that they have, at least at some point in their careers, lied on their CVs. Most people will not admit to this since it might affect their current employment or careers.

Two Sides to a Story

This was not news to me – I knew that there are two sides of the story when it comes to lying on a CV. But I wanted to know how much harm, and how much benefit lying could actually bring to a job application and whether those trade-offs have any implications for the long term. With this in mind, I set out to find the answers to those questions, in order to make my own mind up about lying on a CV.

My personal research was conducted by asking/talking to as many people as I could reach, about their opinions, as well as experiences, of lying on a CV. My aim in this article is to give you a balanced overview of the subject, based on objective truths, rather than moral or other subjective considerations.

Lying on a CV could produce nuanced results. The benefits are obvious: adding some extra experience or a qualification on your CV could give you an advantage and put you ahead of the competition. As a result, you might even get your dream job. One of my respondents believes that lying on a CV always works, “if you know what you’re lying about and have done your homework on it” (Anonymous).

Is lying on your CV really that easy? Well, it could be, but it’s usually not. Emily Hankinson believes that lying on a CV is never justified because “beginning a relationship with a potential employer is a lot like starting a new friendship or romantic relationship – you would never want either of those to be based on a lie so why would you lie on your CV”?

Does Lying on CV Work?

Say you’ve lied on your CV and managed to secure an interview. Even if you choose to ignore the moral considerations and the sense of guilt, could you carry out the lie during the interview, and then, if you get the job, during your employment with the company? Sara McCallum shares that whenever she’s lied, even if not caught out, it’s “the pure terror” that she can’t handle. Think in perspective: is it worth being embarrassed at an interview, or even worse, later on, when you’re working for this company, to be exposed for a seemingly innocent lie?

If you have to go to the extent of lying to secure an interview and a job, then you should know from the start that you won’t be the right candidate. Fooling others is one thing, you can pull it off if you persist, but fooling yourself will come back to haunt you, will affect your self-confidence, and at some point you will realise it was not worth it. In Sara’s words, even if you go past the “terror” of lying, the victory of securing a job would be “as hollow as a Kinder egg”.

Lying or Manipulation

Another topic that came up in my conversations about lying on a CV was the manipulation of words to your advantage. Some might say this is still lying. However, it actually is not. “Manipulating a CV is fine, because that is basically hacking the scanners at the employer’s end” (Faizan Patankar). We, as employees, need to learn and speak the language that employers use. As Sara puts it, “Certainly, understanding the vernacular of the working world is essential to job hunting, and an appreciation of the framework you are working within”.

We have to use the skills and experience we have, to convince employers we can do a certain job better than anyone else. Being able to adjust your own experience in order to fit certain job requirements, is a skill in itself, and I am sure not only that employers are well aware of it, but they can appreciate a candidate’s ability to speak the language of employers, using it to show their strengths and advantages. This is very different from lying because you’d never have to worry about defending yourself, or being caught out. All you’ve done is pick the right words, and in the world of employment, this is a crucial skill.

Editorial Conclusion

To conclude, I will use an analogy that has been used a lot in recruitment recently, even though I do not agree with it entirely. Getting a job in today’s competitive market is all about selling oneself. Just like in selling, a salesperson can secure a sale telling lies, or twisting the truth about a product. But the only way of building a reputation and long-term success, is if you really have a high-quality product. Lying on a CV can get you a job. If you, however, are interested in building and sustaining a career, lying will never get you far. Instead, concentrate on all the skills you do have, and present them in a way for employers to understand and appreciate by speaking the language recruiters understand and value.

What do you think about this whole issue? Comment below and express your views.

3 Comments

    • I completely agree. You can’t keep up lies for long. And you really don’t want to base your achievements on lies, or even half-truths. I am always in two minds about what to put in my language section, because my level of French used to be really good, but I know for a fact it’s not as good any more. But I don’t put that I speak French, I only say I know French at a Post-Beginner level which is reflective of the truth. Recently I have been tempted to apply for a job at the EU, but the requirement is to speak fluent English and French or German. And I know that my level of French just won’t cut it. So no point in fooling them, or myself. It would be a massive embarrassment if I had to prove I speak fluent French. So best advice is stick to the truth at all times!