Many people lie about careers. More are now telling porkies on their CVs, making up stories about their academic background and achievements. Of course, gilding the lily occasionally might be part of human nature but the evidence suggests more people are bending the truth about their career.
It seems to be more of a problem now. One study, for example, found that graduates these days are more likely to lie on CVs because of high university fees and a difficult job market. Higher university fees means people are more likely to miss out on vital courses, so they are more likely to lie about having done them to get the job. And of course, people are more likely to stretch the truth in a tough job market.
And the lies are coming in from everywhere, even from the boss. In May this year, Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson was ousted after only four months in the job when it was revealed he had lied on his resume. Thompson, who had accounting qualifications, wanted to make a big impression at the search engine company so he had told them he had a computer science degree which, in fact, he had not received.
If the CEO of a company does that, where does that leave everyone else?
According to Forbes, the most common lies on CVs include playing with dates to hide employment gaps, something people use to hide they were fired and spent some time looking for work, or covering over a period of job hopping. Other resume lies include embellishing experience and accomplishments or claiming you were paid a higher salary at your last job to get more money. Some might claim language proficiency which they don’t have. Or they might claim they received degrees and honours that they never got. Older job seekers have been known to fudge or leave off the year they received their degree, or lop off their early work history, to appear younger on paper.
According to a study by talent assessment company SHL, managers are more likely to lie on their CVs than other workers. The study found that 39 per cent of managers had lied in their resumes while 25 per cent of other workers had lied in a resume in 2012. That’s not surprising – managers tend to be more ambitious.
Lying on your CV is not smart. You will be found out. Kris Dunn at the HR Capitalist site says you just have to tell the truth. But then, what makes it more complicated these days is you need to adjust whatever you said on LinkedIn. That takes a bit more work because it’s not as private as distributing a resume to a recruitment firm or a prospective employer. But in this uber-connected world, it has to be done.
How should managers handle these lies? HR experts suggest some common sense measures. Like for example contacting the university that people claim they attended. Is there a record? Use the Internet, it’s easy these days. Search for the candidate on LinkedIn. If they have a profile, compare what they say about themselves online and on paper. Search for red flags on the candidate’s social media profiles. Check to see if they had badmouthed a former boss or were highly active during normal business hours. Check the referees and make sure they’re credible. Listen carefully to what they say in the interview and watch their body language. Perform a background check and ask specific technical questions about the skills they claim to have.
How would you manage CV lies?