Much like Leonardo DiCaprio's character Frank Abagnale Jr in Catch Me If You Can (2002) that stars Tom Hanks and Carl Hanratty, most people tend to skewer and embellish the truth to get to where and what they want. From lying about the details to inflating the success of their career and choices, the big takeaway from watching this is that lying about anything is never the right approach.
In the film based on the true story of the real Abagnale Jr, DiCaprio's character assumes several identities – illustrating vast skills and abilities as an airline pilot, a doctor and a lawyer all before the age of 21! In reality, that would never fool hiring managers or recruiters if presented on paper. The inflated qualifications and various work experience in the different industries would be spotted immediately.
But according to CV Library’s survey, they’ve found that an incredible 92.5% of the British workforce has admitted to lying on their CV. Now as a recruiter with over 13 years of experience, we’ll let you in on a little insight on four of the biggest common areas that people commonly lie about – trust us when we say we can spot these lies from a mile away.
One such area of a CV where people often lie is about their education. These lies might range from listing professional qualifications that they may have through to changing the dates of attendance at educational institutions attended. According to the CV Library, 54.8% of Brits would lie to look more qualified to help them get their next career move.
However, you should be mindful of the consequences of such a move with a former Head of an NHS Trust facing time after admitting to lying about his qualifications to secure his £115,000 per annum role. Despite only really having a few A-levels, he claimed to have a 1st class degree and a Postgraduate Diploma in Forensic Medicine.
That’s an extreme example of exaggerating your qualifications but, with the digitising of qualification information by educational institutions, it is becoming increasingly easy to verify details the qualifications that you have.
Your work experience is a major section of your CV and arguably the most important, and therefore the temptations to lie or exaggerate the details in this section are significant.
You are much better coming clean with the hiring manager for the role you’re after to explain why there are gaps or inconsistencies in your work experience. A considered hiring manager would take into account the genuine reasons for these gaps.
Did you know: an OfficeTeam poll found that 76% of people know someone who has fabricated a job in order to seem better qualified for another role! And according to the CV Library survey, 54.8% would lie to appear more qualified for a new role.
Closely linked to these is making up promotions that you have had. This is easily checked via references and your new employer contacting your current employer to verify details.
Salary & Benefits
A common area for white lies is around the salary and benefits package that you’re enjoying in your current role. An increase in salary and better perks are two common drivers that motivate people to start searching for a new job.
And while it is tempting to embellish the truth to help you secure better pay, this is a detail that you shouldn't lie about as it is easily fact-checked by hiring managers or recruiters. Rather than embellishing your current situation, the best thing you can do is to research the market rate and communicate your desires for higher pay.
Skills & Abilities
Nearly a third of people answering the CV-Library survey stated to that the reason behind the lies is to ‘look more skilled’. Now imagine this scenario: your boss asks you to translate a document from French because you said you were ‘fluent’ in the language on your CV and, although Google Translate may be able to help with the simple phrases, chances are you'll be stuck very quickly.
This applies for other skills that you may be tempted to exaggerate on your CV too. For instance, if you can use Excel reasonably well then put that on your CV but don’t upgrade it to ‘expert level’ if you can’t program macros and other functionality in Excel!
Also, don’t list exciting hobbies or noble volunteering when most of your free time is spent playing video games. You’d be better off not listing anything than lying as you may just be putting yourself at risk of getting caught out and looking like a fool.
For the vast majority of the time, lying on your CV is not a good policy to adopt. Lying says a lot about your character and truthfully, who would want to work with a liar? Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to writing your CV as sticking to the truth will certainly help when you have to answer questions in an interview.
Thanks to the ease and accessibility of the digital age, it is much easier nowadays to discover whether someone is lying on their CV. Embellishing the truth to get a job is a waste of time for everyone involved in the process and even if you do get employed, the mismatched skills and experience may just result in quick termination of employment. And when that happens, you would have to go through the entire process again!
Want to polish your CV? Here are 6 CV Tips to Help You Land Your Dream Job and 9 Basic Interview Mistakes you need to know to avoid making when you land an interview.