Career clinic: Is it OK to lie on a CV?

Q: I’m updating my CV in preparation for applying for jobs. I showed my CV to a friend working in recruitment who recommended I “dress it up a bit because everyone does”. She said I should slip in a few white lies such as upping my current salary, inflating education grades and expanding previous job descriptions. Am I likely to get caught out if I do this?

A: Yes, you are very likely to get caught, writes Mary Jackson. Every organisation serious about providing an excellent level of service (and recruiting high calibre staff to provide that service) will check to ensure that the information candidates include on their CV or application form is accurate.

It is standard practice for an organisation to request confirmation on an appointed applicants’ role and salary from their current employer, and many organisations require detailed references or information from previous employers too. You will also almost certainly be asked to produce originals of relevant qualifications and awards, so if you decide to “slip in a few white lies” the truth is highly likely to get out pretty early.

It is also important to be aware that even at this stage your actions will have consequences. In order to have a reference from your current employer you will have either given your notice, or stated your intention to do so. If the offer is later withdrawn, you will need to have an uncomfortable conversation with your manager. You will be able to do this only once – it is only possible to approach your employer for a reference so many times before they get annoyed, and it is even more difficult to get a good job without a good reference

Let’s play devil’s advocate for a moment and say that you make it through the screening process. By being dishonest from the outset, you are automatically on the back foot. You will probably feel guilty or nervous about getting caught, and if you have embellished your qualifications or experience then it is likely you will lack some of the required skills to undertake the role.

This may sound cautionary and to a certain extent it is – the simple fact is that if it is necessary to exaggerate the facts in order to get considered for a role, then perhaps it is just not the right role.

Mary Jackson is project manager, Reclaim Social Work, at Hackney Council’s children and young people directorate

Next question (answered in the 9 October edition of Community Care)

My work group is very fragmented, with cliques undermining each other. It is disruptive and takes up a lot of time and emotional energy. What can I do to change this? We will answer this question in the 9 October issue of Community Care. We will publish readers’ advice too click here to send it to Derren Hayes

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