Will you be found out if you lie on your CV?

Tue, 03/07/2012 - 23:18 -- nick

This is one of The Guardian's excellent blogs on writing a CV. It warns about the dangers of lying on your CV; this is becoming more common as the jobs market becomes tougher. There is a new service which employers can use to check you really have the qualifications you claim to have, so it is even more important now to be honest on your CV.

When Neil Wilson* applied to a retail banking chain for a job not long after graduation, he beefed up his CV by "creating" relevant work experience he had not actually done. "I thought I'd better show that I had worked in a bank before, so I put down that I'd done a month's unpaid work in a local branch where I grew up. That branch had closed, anyway, so I knew they'd never be able to check."

Wilson didn't get the job, but does not believe the fabrication on his CV was the reason. "There's no way they could have found out, and when I asked for feedback they said it was because they had been inundated with applications from high-calibre graduates. I would consider doing it again in similar circumstances," he admits.

Higher university fees and a difficult jobs market could make "education fraud" such as this more widespread, according to Graduate Prospects. It surveyed 1,306 students and graduates in May 2012 and found that close to half (43%) said the rise in tuition fees would make graduates more likely to lie on CVs and only a third disagreed outright. Two-thirds (68%) reported that buying a fake degree would be more tempting, while less than a quarter disagreed.

The majority of those surveyed admitted that they knew it was illegal to give misinformation on CVs, but a third said they knew someone who has lied or exaggerated about their qualifications on their CV. The most common lies were: giving a higher grade than they had actually achieved (47%); claiming they had completed a course when they only finished part of it (29%); offering a different course subject to suit the job requirements (13%); and saying they have a degree when they don't (11%).

Telling porkies on one's CV is enough of a concern for the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills to partner with the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and Universities UK to launch an online service that allows employers to check candidates' qualifications.

The Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD) claims to already have all 165 publicly-funded universities and colleges in the UK on board. Mike Hill, chief executive of Graduate Prospects – which conducted its survey on behalf of HEDD – says: "We found that the vast majority of small businesses, and only a fifth of large companies, verify qualifications. Interestingly, 89% of students and graduates said that by just having the knowledge that their qualifications were going to be checked would make them less likely to lie."

Wilson is not so sure. "Companies might be able to check up on the actual qualifications someone has got, but you'd be stupid to say you got an A for maths when you got a C – there's documented evidence against you.

"But for white lies, I don't think employers will ever be able to check. If I say, for example, that I can use a certain type of software, it's unlikely I'd get found out unless they put a computer in front of me during an interview and asked me to start doing something. I'd learn how to use the software on the job and no one would have known I'd made it up."

This is a problem for employers. Soraya Pugh, head of graduate at FreshMinds Talent, said lying on a CV is, "never a good idea, not only because you could get found out but because a lack of skills or experience will become apparent once you are in the role. With online recruitment and tools such as LinkedIn being your online CV, it is crucial to make sure all versions of your CV are the same or it will look like you are lying even if you are not."

* Name has been changed

Via The Guardian