What are the common lies told on CVs?

Recently invited to discuss the common lies told on CVs with Dave Monk BBC Essex Radio’s Drive Time presenter. According to the research there are still a high percentage of candidates submitting applications with inaccurate information. With the advances in technology there’s a very high chance you’ll get found out. Reference checking, background checking or pre-employment screening is often outsourced to the experts these days. Don’t be tempted to lie on your CV. If you get caught it could damage your career for several years. For some professions, it could damage your career for life. So, what are the common lies told on CVs?

Mind the gap

There are candidates that close the gaps by altering the dates of employment. There’s obviously an assumption here that a gap is always viewed negatively. It’s not necessarily negative to have a gap between employment. During times of recession recruiters and hiring managers understand redundancies increase. They understand there could be periods of unemployment. Unemployment is of course a negative experience for the person however, it’s not necessarily a reason for not considering someone’s application.  So, be honest about this one.

My advice if you are unemployed is to make good use of this time. Commit to your personal development and make sure you include this in your next interview. Make the experience sound as positive as you can to the recruiter. And never stop networking!

Head of Department

Candidates are reported to be lying about their level of responsibility. One of the reasons for changing jobs is to gain a promotion or additional responsibilities.  I’m guessing they want to speed up the process of climbing the ladder. The typical reference will include only the basic information, start date, end date and the last job position held. The company are likely to find out you didn’t head up a department!  There’s no employment law around reference checking. However, most companies are very cautious about sharing negative data.

Exaggerating Experience

Having interviewed thousands of candidates there are some very confident people who could probably exaggerate and get away with it. It’s still a risky strategy during an interview. Particularly if you are interviewed by a trained and experienced recruiter. They are particularly good at probing for further information. An interviewer will be observing your body language and may even pick up on subtle clues and shifts. They may also be taking very good notes. Which means they can refer back and ask further questions later in the interview. Be cautious about exaggerating.

Reasons for leaving

There may be a few reasons for not disclosing your reasons for leaving your job. People join organisations and leave bosses. There aren’t many people who want to admit they were fired.  It’s a sure way of being rejected by the next employer.  However, at some point you will need to disclose.

Here are the common reasons for leaving a job:

  • Relationship with your boss may have broken down.
  • No job satisfaction – the job is dull and boring
  • There isn’t any chance of promotion or progression
  • New challenge or promotion
  • Increase in salary
  • Risk of redundancy or made redundant
  • Company restructuring or downsizing
Read this blog I wrote for the Learnist.org.uk: How to answer “Have you ever been fired?” question.


Another big reason for leaving a job is wanting a salary increase. This is perfectly reasonable. This can happen when someone feels undervalued. However, it’s really not a good idea to lie about your current salary. Some good companies will not want to pay someone under the current market salary. Paying someone less than others in the department will cause problems in the future. It’s also unlawful under the Equal Pay Act.  So, it’s usually expected that a candidate moving jobs will want to increase their salary at the same time. It is fairly common practice. There’s again no reason why a candidate should lie.

With the advances in technology there’s a very high chance you’ll get found out. Reference checking, background checking or pre-employment screening is often outsourced to the experts these days. Is it worth the risk? It could follow your career for years. So, it’s really not worth the risk. Think about the longer-term consequences and the limitations you’ll face.