Have you ever lied on your CV?

close up of man back with...
close up of man back with...

Now we know why men get all the best jobs: they're fibbing their way in.

According to a new survey from recruitment app Job Today, while fewer than a third of women say they've told lies on their CV, more than four in ten men admit to it - and a quarter say they do it regularly.

Londoners, too, are particularly untruthful, with 44% saying they've lied on their CV. Yorkshire isn't much better, at 42%, and the figure's around a third for most of the country.

Only in Scotland are recruiters likely to find honesty really widespread, with three-quarters of people saying they've never lied on their CV.

"It's a sea of lies out there! Recruiting staff based only on what's written on a piece of paper is never a good idea," says Polina Montano, co-founder and COO of Job Today. "There is much more to every candidate than can be reflected on a CV."

Interestingly, high earners say they feel more pressure to tart up their CVs, with 44% doing it from fear of competition. There's a tendency here to lie about extra-curricular activities, presumably to try and make oneself seem more interesting and dynamic.

It's the lower earners who tend to be most honest, with more than two thirds of people earning less than £10,000 saying they have never lied on a CV.

The commonest fib, according to recruitment site CareerBuilder, is to fake skills or qualifications, perhaps by pretending falsely to have finished a degree or by inflating the final grade. More than six in ten people say they've done this at one time or another.

But, says the site's Heather Huhman, "Though you might not have all the skills the position calls for, this is not an area you want to embellish. It's easy to think, 'I'll pick it up as I go', but if employers find out you don't have the capabilities you say you do, you'll flag red as dishonest."

And it can be very easy for a prospective employer to catch you out.

"We were having the interview by phone. Her resume said she speaks French. So do I," writes one poster on Reddit.

"The interview went well up until I transitioned into French. There was a very long, uncomfortable silence before we exchanged pleasantries and hung up."

More than half of people have apparently lied about their previous job responsibilities, with many inflating their job title or salary in order to present themselves as more senior than perhaps they really are.

And four in ten people have pretended to work somewhere for longer than they actually have in order to cover up a period of unemployment - or worse.

But there's a big difference between lying and, well, spin. While the former may be beyond the pale, the latter is pretty much compulsory.

"Many entry-level job seekers err in the other direction and downplay their skills and accomplishments on their resumes. After all, the point of a resume is to present your skills and abilities to a prospective employer in the best way possible," says Peter Vogt of jobs website Monster.

"That means learning to find the happy medium between unintentional modesty and over-the-top exaggeration and hype."

The extent to which you can get away with a bit of exaggeration varies from industry to industry. For example, job applicants at banks and other financial institutions can expect rigorous scrutiny.

And it goes without saying that you should never embellish your skills and responsibilities if there's a chance that people at your target firm know your colleagues - it will all come out in the end.

"I once put out a casting notice and received a headshot/resume from someone who I turned down for a part in a previous project," says one film maker. "They listed themselves as the lead in said project with me as the producer."

And it's worth remembering that any lie you come up with will have to be maintained indefinitely.

"We interviewed someone for sales. She was sharp, articulate, and a go getter. The day she started I had to explain some basics to her. Weird, but thought new job jitters. After a few days it just seemed that she couldn't understand most things that she nailed in the interview," says one employer.

"One evening as everyone was leaving her sister showed up to meet her. Her identical twin sister... It was funny to watch everyone's expression as it clicked."

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