To lie or not to lie (on your CV)?

This begs the question, what are people lying about? Mostly, people are lying about their experience, with 44% of survey participants admitting to having embellished this on their CV. Interestingly, people also admitted to lying about their ‘personal interests’, through a fear of not sounding ‘interesting enough’ on their CV (32% admitted to this lie). Other common areas for fabricating the truth included how long participants had spent in a job (30%) and their education level or qualifications (30%). (1)

Given this recognition that lying on a CV is not that uncommon these days, the response from many companies has now been to offer roles initially as a contract, with the possibility of permanency, in order to test out new hires for the skills that they have listed on their CV. Obviously, employers will not trust staff who claim on their CV to have a skill-set that they actually do not possess, which usually results in termination of employment.

In an extreme case, employers have the option of first sacking and then prosecuting a staff member for fraud if they have lied on their CV and presented false documents to back up their education. Although this is incredibly rare, being terminated early into your new job is a real risk if you have stretched the truth in your application. Interestingly, in Western Australia, the Government has now given local council employers the authority to impose a $5000 fine on applicants for CEO positions who have provided false or misleading information about their qualifications on their CV or through the application and interview process.

So, next time you’re applying for a job you may want to think twice about that little white lie, especially if it relates to your University marks or qualifications. Plans are underway in Australia to set up a national online database of University records, ensuring a quick and easy reference point for recruiters and/or employers to verify whether the candidate did receive those grades that he or she is claiming, or whether in fact they actually even attended the institution listed.

In short, lying does not pay off.

While most CVs contain small white lies, such as an exaggeration in length of employment at a previous employer, bigger fabrications such as level of experience/responsibility, or complexity of a previous role, can catch a candidate out with a new employer. And this can have serious consequences for their career in both the short, and long, term.