Economical with the Truth: Lying on Your CV

Natasha Phillips discusses the phenomenon of lying on your CV.

As the job market is becomingly increasingly competitive, it is becoming harder to stand out to employers. Gaining experience and qualifications is often an essential requirement for candidates but exaggerating or completely fabricating your achievements is seen as a way out for many prospective employees. Despite lying on job applications being illegal, with a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, 58% of employers claim to have caught an applicant lying on their CV. But why must people resort to lying to be considered suitable for a role that they have no experience in?
Of course, some embellishments are more serious than others – it is commonplace to make yourself seem as desirable as possible on a CV, but at what point do morals take over? Extreme fraud can cost employers a lot of money if the job is given to a candidate that is unqualified and has to be replaced. 51% of employers would automatically reject a candidate who they believe had lied on their application. However, there is more of a grey area when the consequences of a little white lie are less disastrous. It is true that not all of the skills and experience that are considered for a position are even necessary for the role, and in some cases a full CV will not put you at any advantage over someone with little experience in terms of ability to do the job.

How hard is it today to tick all the boxes and be the ‘right man for the job’? To get ahead of the crowd you need experience, but to get experience you need experience. This paradox is particularly unhelpful for people trying to break into a new industry, such as recent graduates. As the number of people who go to university now as opposed to 20 years ago has increased exponentially, the value of a degree has decreased in response. Is it necessary to have a string of numbers after your name to set yourself apart from the rest? No – but it certainly helps. This is why many have taken the all-too-easy shortcut and fabricate qualifications and experience.
It is easy to blame employees who lie their way into a job, but it is just as easy for employers to misrepresent the specificities of the role and the job prospects that they are advertising. And how much more likely would this be if jobs were less sought after and there were fewer candidates to pick and choose from? Dishonesty in the recruitment process is not stigmatised in the same way but if the job is not as expected, it could cause employees to further feel the need to embellish applications.

In general, the view is that as long as you can actually do the job to the degree expected, it probably won’t be too detrimental to be a little creative. Keep the consequences in mind and remember, to not tell the whole truth is to base your employer-employee relationship on a lie. Neglecting to mention how your life-changing work experience was actually only four days in Year 10 at your uncle’s office, could set yourself at a disadvantage in the future.