The truth about lying on your CV to hiring managers
By Kylee McIntyre12-Jul-2018Views 1578

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Does lying on your CV really get you farther ahead? Copyright: marchsirawit / 123RF Stock Photo.

You've getting the itch to move jobs for any number of reasons. You're feeling it's time for a change. You want to work on something a little different. Or, you just want to take a serious look at what's out there. You go to polish your resume, cover letter, and any samples of past work you've done, and you hit the job boards, ready to upsell yourself on the job market again.

But when does upselling yourself to hiring managers become straight-up lying on a CV or in an interview? We've talked a little bit before about why you shouldn't lie about your salary to a recruiter - you're shooting yourself in the foot for an opportunity for a raise, and there are more ways than ever to figure out who's lying about their past work experience. But what about the rest of the process?

Is there a situation where you should be lying on your CV or during your hiring process?

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It's easier than ever for people to fact check what you claim. Copyright: anahtiris / 123RF Stock Photo.

In short, no.

Ideally, you're not lying on your CV at all. Only by offering an accurate assessment of your own skills and experience can hiring managers evaluate you for open positions. Not lying on your CV will also save you from embarrassment - possibly a rescinded offer - later on if your lie is discovered and save the hiring staff time and resources in employing a good candidate who can do the work required.

Before talking about common lies people tell on their CVs or in interviews, it might be helpful to tackle why people misrepresent themselves during their job search: for whatever reason, they don't think they're good enough or talented enough to land the type of job they want. Or, their qualifications make them good candidates for one position, when it's a different position or especially if the detail is superfluous, but they tend to have some experience with the field. Lies therefore get easy to spot over time. If a call to an old employer - especially if the employer works in an industry in the same location where you're applying for work - can disprove your paperwork, it's best to think twice. The same goes for skills - if you list a skill on your resume, especially an industry-specific hard skill, then you can expect that skill to be tested.

If you're working with a recruiter, you have a little more room to explain yourself. Traditional recruiters get paid when you do, so it helps to give them more information up front so that they know how to sell on your behalf to your company. This is a good place to talk about why you want to pivot or how to explain something about your past in an interview (i.e. why you got fired from your last job).

We'll go through common lies people tell during their job search processes - if these are fibs you want to tell to get a leg up in the industry, we'll tell you alternative ways to get around them so that you don't have to lie.

Lying on Your CV about Education

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Giuseppe Conte, Italy's PM, faced criticism for lying on his CV.

With prime ministers getting jobs despite lying about their education on their CVs, why shouldn't you embellish a little? Stick that three-month study abroad program on your CV or that course you took online from a top university - the time matters less than the name, right?

Your experience is going to matter more at the end of the day than where you went to school.

The nice thing about the tech industry is that your experience is going to matter more at the end of the day than where you went to school, and that includes if you are a coder new to the industry, fresh off a training program and a job pivot. However, if you're just starting out and looking to pad your resume, it's understandable that you want your education to catch a hiring manager's eye.

Save yourself the trouble. Be upfront about your education, and if you're going through a job pivot, be sure to tell the recruiter with whom you're working. Tech companies need talent, and the right company will jump at the opportunity to grow fresh talent. Don't get caught lying on your CV before you get the chance to grow.

Lying on Your CV about Experience

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Copyright: sifotography / 123RF Stock Photo

Lies about experience are among the easiest to spot. If you're listing a skill you don't have, that will probably come up if that's a skill that they look for in the technical test. If you're listing the amount of time you stayed with a company, rounding up several months is a no-no and easy enough to figure out with a few phone calls.

If you're feeling insecure about a sabbatical, don't.

If you're feeling insecure about a sabbatical, don't. Just explain what you were doing during that time. If you're looking for a job with good work-life balance, then they should understand taking a sabbatical to deal with a chronic health problem or to spend more time with your family. Explain it - either in your cover letter (which is supposed to fill in gaps that your CV leaves), within the short professional summary at the top of your CV, or during your interview.

You know that part at the end where the interviewer asks if you have any questions or concerns? Bring this up then. It'll make for an excellent talking point - and tell you a lot about the company's culture in the process.

Lying on Your CV about Your Intentions

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Copyright: vadymvdrobot / 123RF Stock Photo.

If you're working with a recruiter, it's okay to tell them if your main driver for your job search is a higher salary, because the recruiter will work with you to help you find jobs on the higher pay-end scale for someone of your skills. Be upfront with your intentions, or the recruiter won't know how best to represent you. Ask questions to discern how the job can benefit you in ways other than the money.

If you're working with a recruiter, it's okay to tell them if your main driver for your job search is a higher salary.

If you're speaking directly to a hiring manager, name the other benefits the job would give you professionally. The salary discussion will come at the end. Don't lie about your previous salary. For more about salary negotiation, see our guide here.


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The Italian tale of Pinocchio is about a puppet whose nose grows when he lies. Photo credit: Pexels.

And remember, above all things, be confident! The tech industry is a great industry for jobs worldwide. You'll find a position fast enough and be well on your way to the next step up in your career.


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Kylee McIntyre
American tech, science, health, and environmental writer. Lover of scifi, fantasy, travel, and coffee. Find her on Twitter @ejkyleem.
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