Is it ever worth lying on your CV to land the job of your dreams?

When you’re desperate to secure a new role it might be tempting to tweak a couple of things on your CV to increase your chance of getting an interview. The changes you make may be related to specific industry knowledge or qualifications, or if you’re a recent grad, it may be related to your experience or work history. If you’ve ever thought about bending the truth on your CV, you aren’t alone - 30% of people admit that they’ve lied on their CV in the past.

But will lying on your CV ever do you any good, and is it ever worth it?
Technically, lying on your CV is classed as fraud, and fraud carries a weighty prison sentence of up to 10 years. Of course, it’s very unlikely that lying on your CV will land you in court, but it is likely to dramatically affect your reputation. We suggest you think twice before deciding to alter the truth in any way, and keep these points in mind.

Lack of technical knowledge will be impossible to hide.
If your white lies relate to previous experience and technical knowledge, it’s going to become clear very quickly that you’re not suitable for the role you’ve been given. Not only will you be more likely to make mistakes, it’ll be obvious that you’re unfamiliar with the software or systems you’re expected to use.

Often, if specific knowledge is essential for a role, your interview will include questions relating to that topic. You may get away with adding non-existent skills to your CV, but do you really want the embarrassment of not being able to answer questions in front of a panel of interviewers?

Your references will be negatively impacted.
In the unlikely event that you bluff your way through an interview without exposing any lies on your CV, you’re still not out of the woods. Your lies may be discovered while you’re in position, and you risk losing the trust of your colleagues and managers. Worse still, if your employer is really unhappy about your lack of honesty, you may find that you’re fired before you even find your feet.

Even if your employer discovers you are lying and decides not to fire you, he or she is very likely to include your aversion to the truth in your references for any future positions. Not only will you have affected your current employer’s opinion, you’re likely to be dealing with the repercussions for a long time to come.

You’re putting extra pressure on yourself.
Even though lying on your CV might be enough to get you an interview, and perhaps even the position itself, once you’ve been given the role, your biggest challenge will be whether or not you can perform. If you’re constantly trying to play catch up with colleagues who are capable of undertaking their work, you’ll always be on the back foot. When you can’t live up to your CV, the pressure will be on you to make sure you up your game, and the only person who will suffer will be you.

Even changes you might think of as being relatively harmless have the potential to create stressful situations in the future that you’d be better to avoid. If you’re keen to go for a grad role that asks for a 2:1, but you’ve got a 2:2, you may be inclined to change one single digit on your CV and think nothing of it. But what happens if you’re asked for proof of your qualification? You may be able to say you’ve lost the paper certificate, but a quick call to your university is all it takes to discover you’ve been a little hazy with the truth.

When it comes to your CV, honesty is definitely the best policy.
If you feel as though you’re lacking some of the specific skills a role requires, make sure you think carefully about the transferable skills you’ve gained instead. Rather than lying on your CV, take the time to really understand how the roles or experience you already have can demonstrate skills that will be beneficial in the role you want to apply for.

By changing the way you view your experience, and understanding what you can bring to the position, you may find that you’re more qualified than you think!

Any lies you do tell on your CV will be discovered eventually.
With so much information available online - and your references to consider - it won’t take long for an employer to spot any statements that don’t ring true. Even if your prospective employer doesn’t run a full background check, your own social media profiles, Google search and references from tutors or past employers will often highlight any discrepancies between your CV and your past.

Whether you’re thinking about adding a grade or two onto your qualifications, extending some dates to cover gaps in employment, or even fabricating a few new skills, we’d strongly advise you to think twice.

Lies don’t fool Recruiters either.
With 85% of recruiters believing that candidates exaggerate skills on their CV, don’t be tempted to assume that if you look for a role through a recruiter you won’t get caught out. After all, recruiters and hiring managers may have seen hundreds of CVs before yours - and there’s a good chance they’ll know how to spot a dud.

If you need to lie in order to feel as though you’ve got any chance of securing a specific position, it’s worth taking a step back to evaluate if you’re suitable for the position in the first place. It may be the perfect role for you, but perhaps in a year or two, and not right now.

In fact, now that you know what your perfect role looks like, you’ve got something solid to work towards. Get some extra experience using the software, hone your skills in a particular area, or take on some voluntary work to make sure that the next time your perfect job appears, you’re ready to grab it with both hands!

Be mindful of the information you include on your CV, and be aware that ultimately, the person who’ll be the most affected by any white lies, is you.