CV Lies That Can Catch You Out

Have you ever been tempted to stretch the truth a little when it comes to your CV? There’re many cases within NZ and around the world where people have been a bit inventive with the accuracy of the information presented in their job application, resulting in serious legal and professional consequences for those involved. While you might think there’s little harm in overinflating your experience or qualifications, our top tips are here to spell out why honesty is always the best policy when it comes to your CV!


Inaccurate Dates

If you have a gap in your CV or some short tenures, you might be tempted to fudge the dates of your other employment to make it appear you were working more than you did. Having gaps in a CV is not uncommon or something you should be worried about, as long as you’re transparent and upfront about your situation. Lying about how long you held a particular job on the other hand, is not a good way to start a new working relationship. If you can’t remember the exact start and finish dates, that’s OK. But you do need to be accurate at least with the years, and ideally months, in any given position. This is why it’s always a good idea to keep your CV and/or LinkedIn profile up to date each time you change roles – it saves a lot of guesswork down the track!


Enhancing your Job Title or Responsibilities

Another way that job seekers can inflate their CV is by zuzhing up their job title to give the impression that they worked at a higher level or held broader responsibilities than they perhaps did. For example, an Office Administrator becomes an Office Manager, a Project Coordinator becomes a Senior Project Leader or an Early Childhood teacher becomes a Child Development Specialist. While it’s certainly true that some organisations will offer a more important sounding job title as a way to compensate for a lower salary, being intentionally inaccurate with your current and previous job titles can do more harm than good. The main reason people will misrepresent their job title or responsibilities is to achieve a pay bump, but if you can’t deliver at the level you claimed you could, it’s going to become apparent pretty quickly. Don’t set yourself up for failure, be honest about your experience and what you’re capable of.


Qualification Misinformation

You should only list qualifications on your CV that you have officially obtained. If you enrolled in a course but didn’t complete it, only include this in your CV if it’s relevant to the role you’re applying for; and make it clear that the qualification itself is incomplete. New Zealand Universities and education providers publish information on who has graduated with what qualification, so this kind of lie can and will be easily found out.


Dishonesty by Omission

Sometimes candidates will leave a role off their CV when the relationship with that employer didn’t end well. While everyone’s circumstances are different and there may be a very valid reason for not parting on the best of terms, leaving things out of your CV because you don’t want a prospective employer to know is essentially lying by omission. People can be caught out when their CV’s don’t match the information available online (for example, LinkedIn profiles), or because someone else connected to that recruitment agency or employer knows the truth.


Not-so-legitimate Referees

While we don’t necessarily recommend including your referee details within your CV for privacy reasons, if you’re going to provide that information as part of an application process it’s really important that you provide legitimate referees. It might be tempting to ask a friend or family member to pose as your employer to provide a good reference, however many agencies and employers now have systems in place to verify that the referees provided are who they say they are. We have more top tips on things to think about when choosing a referee here.


So what if I lie on my CV?

Dive into any online discussion forum around the do’s and don’ts of lying on your CV and you’ll find all manner of opinions on the matter. While some people are firmly in the camp of “if you get the job, what’s the harm? Fake it till you make it!”, at the end of the day not being truthful with your application isn’t a good way to start a new working relationship. Honesty is always the best policy, especially when it comes to considering new jobs.

Even if you do successfully land the job, if it comes out that you were untruthful in your CV or during the interview process, you could have your offer rescinded, or your employment terminated. Most employment agreements and recruitment processes ask that you confirm all information provided as part of your application is accurate and true. Any contracts you sign will likely contain clauses about what happens if you haven’t been honest, which more often than not, results in termination.

If you’re thinking about stretching the truth a little bit, keep this in mind – New Zealand is a small place. We often joke that New Zealand is a village, but it’s very true when it comes to many of our job sectors which tend to be well connected; it doesn’t take long for deceptions to be uncovered. The best way to set yourself up for success is by being honest about your abilities and experience.

Good Luck,
Kirsty and Nikki

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  1. Very insightful thank you

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