IT is tempting to slightly exaggerate your less-than-perfect GCSE results, or boost the role you played in a particular company when you are applying for a new job – but you may regret it.
Recent research from CIFAS, the UK’s fraud prevention organisation, found that four out of 25 people it surveyed didn’t think that lying on your CV or supplying false information was illegal.
But CV fraud is a serious business – and if you are found out, you could end up with a hefty fine or even a jail term.
Simon Wingate, managing director of recruiter Reed.co.uk, said it is really important to give an accurate representation of yourself when you are sending your CV to potential bosses.
“Your CV is a prospective employer’s first impression of you, so although it’s important that it sells your skills and experience, it also needs to be truthful,” he said.
“Many people may not be aware that lying on your CV, no matter how small, is part of the wider crime of application fraud, for which there can be serious consequences.”
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In August last year, Britain’s most senior judges ruled that salaries obtained fraudulently are considered proceeds of crime, during a case concerning a bogus NHS boss.
The Supreme Court ordered Jon Andrewes, 68, to give back almost £100,000 after he forged qualifications including PhDs to cover the reality that he was an unqualified builder.
Andrewes had previously been jailed for two years for the crime.
Even if your CV fraud isn’t as serious, there are still consequences, explained Simon.
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“If you are found to be lying on your CV, your application will be immediately withdrawn, and you may be reported to bodies such as CIFAS.
“In extreme cases, you could be sent to jail for up to 10 years.”
There could also be ramifications for your ability to get work in the future, he said.
“If you successfully get a job based on misinformation, you risk being dismissed if your employer finds out," he said.
Lying on your CV is grounds for ‘summary dismissal’, where workers are sacked without notice, wages or a payoff.
Simon added: “It’s likely you’ll be unable to get a reference from that point forward, which could make it hard to find a new job in the future.”
Here are his tips for making sure your CV is an accurate reflection of the qualifications and qualities you have.
Don’t exaggerate grades
“You may think that small white lies, such as changing one or two exam grades, is no big deal but in reality it’s seen as false representation and can bring your entire application into disrepute,” Simon said.
Employers may contact your school, college or university to check your grades, or ask for copies of exam certificates, so you could be found out.
Instead, be upfront about grades – even if they aren’t great.
Lots of employers are more concerned with experience so you might find that it doesn’t matter anyway.
Don’t worry about gaps
Simon said that when it comes to being creative with a CV, people are most likely to lie about how long they were in a job role or tweak their job title to appear more senior.
“Although it can be tempting to cover up any gaps in unemployment by extending your working dates slightly, it’s always best to be honest and position any gaps in your CV positively,” he explained.
He said non-work periods can be valuable to employers, particularly if you have been doing things such as travelling, taking further education or qualifications, or raising a family.
“These can be framed to show how you have developed and enhanced your skills during this time,” he said.
Avoid 'grey areas'
There aren’t really grey areas when it comes to CV fraud – lying or embellishing your achievements is fraud, no matter how small you think the falsehood is.
Be cautious of things such as languages or skills, where you may be tempted to oversell what you can do.
For example, don’t promise you can speak French if you only did it at school 10 years ago.
Remember, you could easily be caught out in an interview if someone tests you on your claims.
Similarly, if you say you have a particular skill, be ready to demonstrate it, whether that is showing your woodwork projects or your baking creations.
Be honest about your achievements
Instead of exaggerating what you can do, take time to really sell your true achievements, so you present the best version of yourself to a prospective employer.
“When drafting your CV, take the time to go through every duty from your previous role, including specific examples of the work you did – don’t sell yourself short,” Simon suggested.
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“Be honest about your achievements and look for the USPs that set you apart from other applicants.
“Starting a new role knowing you’ve gone in as your true self will set you up for success, without worrying you’ll be caught out.”
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