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Lying on Your CV? What Employers Really Think

People lie about a lot of things: age, weight … number of Botox injections. Sometimes lies can be harmless (who needs to know that your natural hair color isn’t really blond?); other times they can get you into big trouble.

When it comes to employment, bending the truth on your CV might seem worth it in today’s competitive workforce, but it will likely get your CV sent to the reject pile. According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 58 per cent of hiring managers say they’ve caught a lie on a CV; 33 per cent of these employers have seen an increase in CV embellishments post-recession.

While half of employers (51 per cent) would automatically dismiss a candidate if they caught a lie on his or her CV, 40 per cent say that it would depend on what the candidate lied about. Seven per cent of employers would even be willing to overlook a lie if they clicked with the candidate.

Most frequent fibs

So what fabrications are job seekers most likely to make on their CV, with the hopes that they’ll go unnoticed? According to employers, the most common lies they catch relate to:

  • Embellished skills – 57 per cent
  • Embellished responsibilities – 55 per cent
  • Dates of employment – 42 per cent
  • Job title – 34 per cent
  • Academic degree – 33 per cent
  • Companies worked for – 26 per cent
  • Accolades/awards – 18 per cent

Incidences by industry

Lies aren’t confined to a certain occupation or job level – job seekers of all types commit lies to boost up their CV. Yet some fields have more offenders than others. The survey found that employers in the following industries catch CV lies more frequently than average:

“Trust is very important in professional relationships, and by lying on your CV, you breach that trust from the very outset,” says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “If you want to enhance your CV, it’s better to focus on playing up tangible examples from your actual experience. Your CV doesn’t necessarily have to be the perfect fit for an organization, but it needs to be relevant and accurate.”

The tallest tales ever told

It’s one thing to spin your experience to make it more relevant to the position you’re pursuing. It’s another thing to claim you have more years of experience than is possible at your age. And that’s actually happened: One employer surveyed says an applicant claimed to have 25 years of experience at age 32.

Other unusual and outrageous lies employers recall include:

  • Applicant included job experience that was actually his father’s. Both father and son had the same name (one was Sr., one was Jr.).
  • Applicant claimed to be the assistant to the prime minister of a foreign country that doesn’t have a prime minister.
  • Applicant claimed to have been a high school basketball free throw champion. He admitted it was a lie in the interview.
  • Applicant claimed to have been an Olympic medalist.
  • Applicant claimed to have been a construction supervisor. The interviewer learned the bulk of his experience was in the completion of a doghouse some years prior.
  • Applicant claimed to have worked for 20 years as the babysitter of known celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Madonna, etc.
  • Applicant listed three jobs over the past several years. Upon contacting the employers, the interviewer learned that the applicant had worked at one for two days, another for one day and not at all for the third.
  • Applicant applied to a position with a company that had just terminated him. He listed the company under previous employment and indicated on his CV that he had quit.
  • Applicant applied twice for the same position and provided different work history on each application.

Debra Auerbach is a writer and blogger for and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

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