Lying and bragging on your CV

Bending the truth or outright lying on your resume can really cause you problems as a candidate and later as an employee. Avoid it at all costs. Just ask Scott Thompson…

Thompson is the ex-CEO of Yahoo who was fired from the company in May for lying about his qualifications. His CV stated that he had a degree in computer science and accounting when in reality he only had an accounting qualification. In a company where many staff were in IT roles this qualification gave him credibility in the eyes of employees, investors and Yahoo’s customers. Once Thompson’s CV lie was uncovered it initiated a chain of events that eventually led to his dismissal.

In the UK, we saw another instance of lying on a CV when 2008 Apprentice finalist, Lee McQueen untruthfully stated that he had studied at university for two years when he had actually only attended for four months. Luckily for McQueen he survived when the lie was discovered – perhaps it was his dinosaur impressions that saved him. However the fact that the lie was overlooked and he was subsequently hired begs the question whether lying on a CV actually matters?

To know whether a lie will automatically result in rejection of an application probably depends on the lie. Some employers may be prepared to overlook minor falsehoods, such as inventing a hobby or slightly exaggerating the level at which it was undertaken. If they consider the untruth only adds colour to the candidate’s experience and is irrelevant to the job, then a company may decide to overlook it.

Where a lie is more serious however, an employer may be less forgiving. Examples of this would include lying about qualifications, dates of employment, achievements and so on. As a candidate, if you are lying about an important detail that directly speaks to your ability to do the job, then you are seriously misleading your potential future employer.

If an employer hires you on the basis of your statements about skills, experience or qualifications that are untrue, it can cause all sorts of issues later on. They may fail to organise training because they wrongly believe you do not need it. Or they may allow you to do a job you’re unqualified to do, placing their business at risk. In a number of industries this may even mean that you become a risk to their clients or the public. Would you want an unqualified or unregistered doctor treating you? Would you feel comfortable getting in a lift that had been checked by an untrained safety operator?

Intentionally including inaccuracies on your CV is best avoided at all times. The consequences to you personally of lying may include rejection of your application or at the very least, permanent doubts about your integrity. In more serious cases your employment may be terminated or you could even be prosecuted. When access to so much information about us is just a Google search away, is it really worth it? Instead of perfecting a lie, spend the time crafting your CV so that the facts shine for themselves.