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Written by George Owen

Most Common CV ‘Exaggerations’ and Why You Should Avoid Them

If you’ve ever lied on your CV then you’ll be pleased to know that you’ve got that in common with 10% of the rest of the British population (that would admit to it on a survey, anyway).

But while you might think that a little white lie or a date extension here or there isn’t as bad as outright fabrication on your CV, we’re afraid to tell you that even the smallest untruths can be uncovered by employers and could well end up costing you that dream job.

From ‘inflated’ titles to concealed criminal records, here are the most common CV exaggerations, how they can be found out and why you should avoid them:

False qualifications – One of the top ‘falsifications’ most reported by employers, these made up qualifications can range from a few tweaked GCSE’s to inventing whole degree courses that never happened. While the latter is obviously more serious, any lies about qualifications are seen as extremely consequential by employers, who list required qualifications precisely in order to make sure they hire the right candidate. A simple background check can usually identify whether or not you’re lying. That, or you’ll get found out further down the line when it becomes evident that you never went to that nursing or social care CPD training course listed on your CV!

Stretched-out dates – Representing a period of unemployment on your CV can be tricky, but it’s much better to find a way of turning around the situation to your advantage than to stretch out employment dates to make it look like you were with a company longer than you were. Instead, you could cite what you learned during your time out of work or how you made sure to keep up with industry news to best position your career break. Employers will check your references and any inconsistencies will soon come to light.

References – Speaking of references, have you ever scribbled down the name of a friend and hoped for the best? This might fly with teenage weekend jobs but fabricated references just won’t work for professional positions where employees are bound to check and find you out.

Exaggerated or ‘fake’ titles and salaries – It can be tempting to list your last salary as way higher than it was in the hopes of getting more in your next job, but don’t forget that you’re applying to industry professionals. They’ll be able to tell if your previous salary seems suspiciously out of line with the average. Plus, a quick background check with your previous company will reveal any lies about your job title.

Criminal records – Some positions, including many criminal justice roles, require a clean record for a reason. So, if job role states such a requirement, it’s unlikely that the employer is not going to check. The same goes for drug tests – modern day tests are often far too sophisticated to get around with tricks you read on the internet so don’t risk it.

Honesty is the Best Policy

The thing about job requirements is that they’re there for you as much as they’re there for your employer. While you might think a little white lie is fine to get that position you’ve been striving towards, bear in mind that lying about your qualifications or experience is just as likely to land you in a role where you feel out of your depth and unhappy as it is to land your employer with the wrong person for the job. Next time you feel like lying on your CV, look at ways to make up for whatever it is you feel is lacking instead. As a suggestion, you could potentially take extra training, courses or even psychometric testing. Improving your prospects and making sure you really are the perfect fit for the role is always going to be a better route than lying. After all, this is one case where faking it might mean you never make it at all.