The importance of honesty on a CV - An interview with Keith Rosser - Head of Reed Screening
Why is it important to tell the truth on your CV?
According to the National Fraud Authority, the UK lost £52 billion in 2013 from fraud. In order to protect themselves, employers are now a lot more savvy and are adopting more stringent pre-screening procedures, this includes verifying the information that you provide on your CV.
The CV that you submit is the employer's first impression of you and so it needs to sell you, but it is important that it is truthful. When it comes to people lying on their CV, those who do lie – or embellish the truth – are very likely to be found out through the pre-screening process. Lying on your CV is now seen as part of the wider crime of application fraud, for which there can be serious consequences.
In July 2014 The Telegraph reported on the growing number of prosecutions and jail sentences given to those caught lying on their CV. The maximum sentence for this crime is 10 years' imprisonment.
While some of these cases are extreme, if you are found to be lying by a potential employer, your application will be immediately withdrawn, and you could be reported to bodies such as CIFAS, a comprehensive store of data relating to fraud. Depending on the sector you are applying to work in, this could be more serious.
If you are successful in getting a job based on lies and mis-information but are found out later on – you could be dismissed and may find it difficult to get a reference from that point forward, which could make obtaining a future role even harder.
What do people lie about on their CV's?
The most common lies we see include the amount of time someone says they were in a particular job, 20% of Candidates lie about the dates that were employed by an employer whilst others give themselves exaggerated job titles, duties which look more favourable, or different reasons for leaving the job. These things are quite easy to spot, for example by checking social media sites.
At REED and many other established recruiters, completing a full reference check is standard practice. As well as asking referees to confirm the candidate's job title and dates of employment in order to verify what has been declared, they are also checking the candidate's duties and reasons for leaving to ensure there is no discrepancy. Potential employees believe that by inflating their grades for their qualifications will make them more attractive to an employer, however it is quite easy to check through the pre-screening process.
Reed Screening check over 90,000 CVs per year and have identified that one in four (24%) of CVs have information that is not backed up or confirmed by the pre-screening process, meaning we are often unable to progress their application – don't let that be you!
Grey areas and white lies
People may think that changing one or two of your exam grades is a small white lie – it isn't, it's fraud and brings your entire application into disrepute. But while you may want to cover up gaps in unemployment by casually extending your working dates on previous jobs, you would be much better off being honest and positively showing your activities during this time – list any courses or learning you may have been doing, volunteering, or self-employment you have undertaken. Even non-work periods can impress potential employers, for instance, travelling to broaden horizons or raising a family and how that developed and enhanced your skills.
Invest time and go through your CV, making sure you list all your duties in your previous role, and give specific examples where you can – don't sell yourself short from duties that you have completed. Be honest and write positively about yourself using the true facts. It probably sounds more impressive than you realise!