Lying on your CV – does it matter?

Do candidates lie on their CV?

The short answer is Yes.   In a survey published in the UK by the The Risk Advisory Group in December 2017 over 5,000 CVs were analysed and checked to see if they contained false information.
Depending on how understanding you want to be, false information can also be called discrepancies, errors of omission or just downright lies. Here’s what they found in those 5,000 CVs:

  • 80% contained one or more discrepancy – up by 10% from 2016
  • 59% of discrepancies related to Employment History
  • 57% related to Academic Background
  • 21% of candidates inflated their job titles
  • 12% falsified their grades

When lying on your CV  – age matters

  • The 25-38 year age group were the most prolific perpetrators with 38% of the discrepancies coming from this age group
  • It seems the need to lie on your CV peaks at the 25-38 age group as the 18-24 year olds accounted for only 14% of discrepancies and the 33-40’s accounted for 24%

Lies about Education and Qualifications

What are the most frequently told CV lies?

  • Stating that you have a degree, Masters,  PhD or any qualification when you don’t have it AT ALL.
  • Stating that you have a degree from a highly rated university when in fact it was from a much less prestigious institution.
  • Claiming your grades are higher than they actually are
  • Slightly more subtle but also a lie is representing on your CV that you attended ABC university and completed a degree there when the truth is you did attend the university for an unspecified period of time but never graduated as you didn’t complete the required exams and coursework.

Employment Lies

Where do we start?

  • Exaggerating or inflating job titles and job responsibilities- for example:

CV version: Managed a team of 10 sales professionals.
Reality: Held the fort with a team of 5 for a week when my boss was out sick
CV version: Managed and delivered a large-scale IT project which led to substantial cost savings within the company
Reality: I was on the team – one of 20 analysts, the project hasn’t finished yet but I think it’s looking promising

  • Changing employment dates to hide big gaps in employment.
  • Stating that you worked for a company when you never did.
  • Saying you are Highly Proficient in something e.g. Excel that in reality you can just about find your way around

Do candidates lie more on their CV than on their LinkedIn profile?

Research conducted on the Effect of LinkedIn on Deception in Resumes concluded that candidates would lie more on their CV or resume about verifiable information key to their ability to do the job as they felt that there was a lower chance of them getting found out.  Verifiable information is key facts relating to names of employers, dates of employment, types of qualifications and education establishment attended.
On their public LinkedIn profiles they lied less about verifiable information as there was a higher probability that someone would read it and know that what they had on the profile was not true.  But the same research study showed that candidates think that LinkedIn is a good place to tell a few fibs related to your unverifiable information – eg your interests, hobbies, causes you support.  Bottom line – if I think I can get away with it I am tempted to do it.

Does it matter?

A few untruths, exaggerations and white lies  here and there. Does it matter?  Employers say it depends what you are lying about.
In a YouGov poll 1,100 employers rated how serious they view a selection of different CV lies.
Top of the pile was candidates lying about their name with 72% of employers saying that they would rate that Very Serious. Let’s face it lying about your identify is a pretty terrible way to start a new job.  Next came Education / Qualifications (63%) and Experience (61%).
The message is that if you absolutely feel the need to create a less than truthful image of yourself keep it to your Personal Interests.  Only 9% of employers rate a few exaggerations in this category – I am avid reader and an active member of my local book club  (Reality: I just about manage to read a magazine once a month) as Very Serious.

What does it mean for candidates?

Your CV is a selling document and an information document.  Of course you need to present and describe your experience and what you can offer an employer in the best possible light – but that should not mean telling them things you know are untrue.
There are ways to explain gaps in employment, unfinished degrees or qualifications and / or minimal relevant work experience without having to reach for a few lies to make yourself appear more suitable to employers.
Employers are beginning to use blockchain technology to design more robust methods to verify CV claims. Make sure you are not disqualified from being considered for your ideal job because of what you consider to be a few “harmless” lies on your CV.
Contact us to discuss how to present your skills and experience to employers via your CV or LinkedIn profile

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