Today's job market is competitive. Those who are in need of work undoubtedly know how difficult it can be to compete for the top jobs. This competitive environment has led some unscrupulous job seekers to embellish or exaggerate their experience in order to improve their chances of obtaining jobs. What are the consequences for the employee who has embellished on his or her resume if he or she gets caught?
What Constitutes a Lie
A lie doesn't necessarily have to be an outright false statement. Omissions can be just as dishonest as an out-and-out lie. It's suggested that the education section of the resume is where embellishments are most frequent. This often comes in the form of an individual claiming that he or she has completed an educational program that he or she may have only started. Embellished titles, exaggerated job duties, altered dates of employment and even false references are also common. Job seekers have also provided fictitious information during the recruitment process, such as reasons for leaving previous positions.
Inability to Complete Job Duties
If someone were to make a false statement on his or her resume regarding his or her job duties or skills in past positions, there is a chance he or she would have difficulty in meeting the expectations set out in the new position. As suspicions arise from the inability to complete job duties, employers have been known to seek out more information and dig deeper into their employees' job histories. Even if this information was not discovered in the initial employment references, this doesn't mean that employers won't seek out more information at a later date, especially if an employer feels that its employee is not meeting expectations.
Once an employee has been found you have lied on your resume, the employer has the right to terminate the employment contract. The employee/employer relationship is one that's built upon trust. Finding out that the job was granted based on fictitious information causes this trust to be breached. It may seem like a little white lie when someone covers up the reason he or she left a previous job, or says he or she graduated from college even though he or she left a semester shy of graduating. From an employer's point of view, however, this lie is seen as a serious character flaw.
Damage to Your Reputation
You can pretty much kiss your employment references goodbye if you're found to have provided false information on your resume. Even if your employer doesn't terminate the employment relationship for the fraudulent information, you'll still have to suffer the embarrassment of having your employer know you lied. Additionally, our digital-age lives make it easier for us to network with other professionals in similar industries. In fields that are small or specialized, word can travel pretty quickly. If someone lost a job due to dishonesty, there's a good chance the word will get out. Some recruiters have even been known to flag candidates who have been found to have fraudulent information on their resumes. A simple lie could have career-long consequences.
How many people lie on their CVs?
According to a UK Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD) survey on graduate data fraud, around 33% of graduates or job seekers falsify important information on their CVs every year. Amongst the culprits, 40% exaggerate their academic qualifications, while 11% make up a degree altogether.
While it may seem like just a “little white lie”, making false statements on your CV can actually have very serious consequences.
How to improve your CV without lying
Take the time to thoroughly research the company, by looking at their site, reading through the job description and finding out more about the employees that already work there.
Use this information to figure out the most relevant skills or qualifications you possess, and emphasize these as much as possible in your CV. Make sure that you position relevant expertise at the top of your application, to catch the attention of the employer and boost your chances of being invited to an interview.
Also, bring your hobbies and interests into the mix. Find ways to relate them to the company culture in order to show you are an ideal fit for the business. Make sure these come immediately after your qualifications and experience on your CV, and also include them in your cover letter, so the employer can see how your interests are relevant to the role.
If you’ve already lied on your CV…
If you have applied for a job using a CV containing false statements, try to rectify the situation. Contact the employer and let them know that there are some errors on the application that you’d like to change. Making the employer aware at this stage will help you avoid difficulties further down the line.
If you are even further into a job application, you may want to consider withdrawing your application, particularly if the statements are in no way true. Choosing to end the process here will allow you to maintain your reputation, rather than damaging it should you get found out at a later stage.
Lying on your CV can severely damage your career before it even begins. It is important to be honest when applying for jobs, even if you feel that you lack the experience and qualifications you desperately want. Think about the time you would spend conjuring up false statements and instead, invest those hours in either gaining relevant skills or improving your job applications.
You can also use services like TopCV to review your CV for free