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Why you should never lie on your CV

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 17 Feb 2023

Never lie CV hero

Sometimes, your CV is the first line of communication you have with an employer. It can be the one document that tells the employer you are qualified to do the job, before they invite you to an interview. It may be tempting to tell a few small lies here and there, in order to push your application forward, but these lies can catch-up with you. Your CV is a great tool used to persuade the employer you are the right candidate for the role but being truthful and honest is the best way forward. Everyone tells a lie or two at some point in their life or career but be careful what you say because it may just stay with you.

It’s a simple thing to avoid and many believe that lying will get you nowhere in the long run. It may seem like a simple thing to say, but more job seekers lie on their CV than you think.

What happens if you get caught lying on your CV?

It can be tempting to tell small lies on your CV, especially if you really want the job and just need a little something extra to help push you above the other candidates. However, here are a few scenarios that could happen if you are caught:

  • The employer may immediately reject your job application
  • They may blacklist you for future job opportunities
  • They can share your CV with other employers, interviewers tend to have networks as well!
  • If you lie on a job promotion at your current workplace, you could lose your current role
  • It can be an embarrassing situation to find yourself in

Interviewers are used to a small lie here and there and they are probably aware of the types of things candidates would lie about on their CV. This makes it easier for them to catch you out.

What do people lie about on their CV’s?

People may tell small lies on their CV for a variety of different reasons but some of the most common CV lies include:

  • The amount of time they spent in a role
  • Exaggerated job titles
  • Adding responsibilities to their job roles
  • Different reasons for leaving their last job
  • Slightly inflating their grades for qualifications (Like GCSEs and A-levels)
  • Hiding career gaps and the reasons behind them

It may seem like these things aren’t that big of a deal, but employers are fact checking their candidates' CVs. Not all the time, but it’s best just to stay on the safe side.

The white lies mentioned above are just a few of the common fibs people tell on their CVs. Some tell much bigger lies that can result in bigger consequences. So why is it important to tell the truth throughout your CV?

You may forget what you’ve said

During interviews, it’s likely that the interviewer will be asking you about your work experience, job history and other aspects of your CV. If you’ve told a few small (or big) lies here and there, it can be hard to remember what you’ve written. Especially if you don’t have the CV in front of you when discussing it during an interview.

Some may say, if you’re going to tell a lie, make sure you remember it. But when you’re caught up in the nerves of an interview, it can be difficult to recall exactly what it is you said. If they ask about it and you don’t have an answer or have forgotten, not only can it feel incredibly awkward, but it can have very negative effects on other jobs at that company. Plus, employers talk, it can have big impacts with other potential employers.

How can employers catch you out?

There are actually really simple ways that an employer can catch you out, sometimes without even realising or doing it intentionally.

They may check your references – References are actually very important to some employers, and they will call around. Either to see what kind of employee you are, what some of your day-to-day responsibilities were and to find out more about your job title. These are simple things you expect any employer to ask, but if you’ve set yourself up for disaster, it can be hard to avoid.

Documentation may be needed – When it comes to certain qualifications, they may want you to prove your grades with the legal documentation. So, if you claim to have a degree at a certain level, they may simply ask you to bring in your degree document to prove it. If you can’t, you may start to have problems.

They may ask you to give an example – During interviews, it’s likely that they will ask questions that require you to talk about a time when… These questions focus on specific skills and talk about a time when you used that skill in the workplace. If you decide to discuss a particular skill and they ask for more information or an example, it can leave you on the spot. Always be prepared to answer the how and why part of the question.

Ask you about it and you’ve forgotten – The easiest way you may be caught out is if they ask you something about your CV and you have forgotten what you wrote. If it was the truth, it would be easier to remember.

They may find out once you’re hired – Most employers will have a clause in your contract that mentions if you’ve been untruthful, they can withdraw your employment status. So, if you lied about a skill that is a necessity for the job you have been offered, your new role can still be retracted.

If any discrepancies are found during an interview or after, the employer may decide to withdraw your application from the rest. They may even call you to discuss their findings which can be an uncomfortable conversation to have.

Sometimes, telling one or a few small lies on your CV can seem like an easy way to get ahead of the game, but try and refrain from it. You may not always have to face consequences and some employers may not even check for the small things, but it’s always best to be 100% honest.