Tuesday 12 November 2019

Is it ever okay to lie on your CV?

Have your CV spotless and easy to read.
Have your CV spotless and easy to read.

John Costello

It might give you an edge, but padding out your past could land you in a lot of hot water, writes John Costello

Lies are on the rise when it comes to job-hunting, according to shocking statistics that reveal the extent to which we tell porkies to boost out employment prospects.

In fact, we are so desperate to gain an edge as the recession wreaks havoc on the employment market, more than 92pc of us pad out our curriculum vitae with falsehoods and fibs, according to a study published by Cornell University.

While the highest number of lies on a single résumé was eight, the study found that though untruths are very common, most are not so much outright lies as exaggerations, omissions or embellishments.

But be warned: dabbling in lies and damn lies when it comes to curriculum vitaes recently cost one high flyer his $1m (€789,889) salary.

The chief executive of internet giant Yahoo, Scott Thompson, was forced to quit in May after it was discovered he had padded out his résumé with an embellished college degree, ending his job there after just four months.

Earlier this year a UK doctor was banned from practising medicine for a year after his fibs were found out. Dr David Clark falsely claimed he was the author of a number of scientific publications. However, not only did he not get the job but also landed himself a one-year professional ban.

And there have been cases closer to home that have caused a few blushes.

Bertie Ahern was most likely left a little red-faced in 2001 when inconsistencies on his CV were revealed. The Fianna Fáil website listed the former Taoiseach's third-level education as: "Rathmines College of Commerce, University College Dublin and London School of Economics."

However, attempts to confirm his attendance at the prestigious LSE proved unsuccessful, and soon the reference mysteriously disappeared from Fianna Fáil's website.

But even more professional embarrassment was dished out to University College Dublin when it made a phone call to check the qualifications of lecturer Gary Santry.

The US citizen had worked for UCD since 1997 in a temporary capacity, but after he applied for a permanent position in 2001 enquiries were made to verify his three postgraduate degrees from reputable US universities.

However, it quickly transpired Santry actually had even less qualifications than some of his students.

"There have been pretty high-profile cases of people telling whopping lies on their CVs," says career consultant Paul Mullen, of Measurability.ie. "However, the problem in a country like Ireland, when it comes to lying on your CV, is that checking up on facts is usually only a phone call away."

While whoppers may be relatively rare in Ireland, little white lies apparently are part and parcel of most CVs.

"Most people receiving CVs expect to find little lies or what they might term as a 'very positive slant' when it comes to past achievements," says Mullen.

"They generally account for that, but the problem is when people over-embellish their responsibilities and duties to an outrageous extent."

However, despite lying seemingly being part and parcel of most job applications, the experts advise to stick to the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, when job hunting.

"The general rule is to first consider whether the point you are expressing is positive or negative," says Drew Douglas of careers advice company cvireland.ie.

"If it's positive, then why embellish it all? A little white lie is no match for a large dollop of truth in compelling, descriptive language."

But while fibs abound on résumés, the major problem limiting the aspirations of many Irish job seekers is in fact under-selling.

"The biggest difficulty is actually the reverse of lying," says Douglas. "Jobseekers with the most impressive achievements are the ones least likely to mention them for fear of being perceived as prima donna careerists."

So while lies can land you in bother, knowing how to make the most out of your abilities can help land you the job.

Irish Independent

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