We all know that the job market is competitive. There are lots of talented people with degrees and work experience looking for jobs, and the pressure to find one can be overwhelming.
When you really, really want a job it might seem tempting to make a few ‘adjustments’ to your CV. Perhaps you don’t have any relevant work experience so you invent a placement, thinking the employer will never check. Perhaps you might change just one digit to turn the 2.2 you actually achieved into a 2.1. But there can be important consequences to lying on your job application – make sure you understand what they are.
Myth: It’s not a big deal to lie or exaggerate on your CV – everyone does it!
Reality: Lying on a job application is fraud – a criminal offence. It is prosecuted, and it can lead to a jail term. And if you think things would never go so far as to you being prosecuted, check out these examples of people who have been.
Myth: If I lie about something – for example, if I say I got a 2.1 when I actually got a 2.2 – no one will ever know.
Reality: It is straightforward to check your details using the information you provide on your application. Universities can supply details of each course you did and the grades obtained, references can be sought, organisations checked up on. If your employer finds out that you have lied on your CV, you will almost certainly not be hired.
Myth: Even if I apply to one employer who finds out that I’ve lied, I can just move on to the next one – there won’t be any long-term consequences
Reality: Many employers are members of CIFAS – the UK’s fraud prevention service. CIFAS keeps the names of individuals who submit fraudulent applications on a database for 6 years. CIFAS members can check any future applications you make against this database. Also, employers talk! You would quickly become known to recruiters in the industry as someone who is not to be hired.
Myth: I just have to get through the application process. Once I’m in the job it will be fine.
Reality: Claiming to have skills and experience you don’t have could negatively affect your ability to perform the job and might lead to your employer becoming suspicious. Even if the lie isn’t uncovered right away, do you really want to spend the rest of your career worrying that it might be? Being fired from a position because you lied will also be a blight on your CV that you will have to explain to every future potential employer.
Myth: The only way I can get a job is by lying.
Reality: It may appear that employers are only looking for people with 2:1s who have done flashy internships, but that’s not the case. There are many employers who will value the skills and abilities you do have, and there are always ways of gaining new experiences to plug any gaps you might have. Have a look at our CV and application resources to help you write the best possible CV with your current level of experience, and remember you can also book an appointment in the Careers Centre for advice on CVs and applications.
There is obviously no way of guaranteeing that you will get every job you apply for – and there will always be jobs you would like that you don’t have the qualifications for (or at least not yet!) But there are many ways of maximising your chances which do not involve lying. Moreover – if you feel you have to lie in order to get a job, is that job really going to be right for you anyway? Would it not be better to hold out for an employer who will really appreciate and value the skills you do have, instead of the ones you have to pretend to have?