We all tell little white lies now and again – we exaggerate for comic effect, we say we ate two cupcakes when in fact it was three, we tell our children the tooth fairy will leave them coins in exchange for milk teeth. But when it comes to our professions, is it ever ok to tell a white lie? Where are the grey areas when it comes to telling the story of our careers?
To help you make sure your CV is sparkling, and your job descriptions make the most out of your skills and experience, we answer the question: is it ever ok to lie on your CV?
Tailoring Your CV To A Job
Remember, there’s a massive difference between embellishment and extrapolation and blatant lying. Downright lies are fraud and have no place on your CV. That said, omitting certain information that isn’t relevant isn’t lying, and can work in your favour. For example, many of us who have skills and experience in different but overlapping areas may have several CV’s depending on the focus of the job: one for marketing, one for events management, one for copywriting.
Just because one CV for marketing doesn’t include all of the information on the events we ran in a role five years ago, it doesn’t mean the candidate is lying about their experience, it means they are tailoring their CV for the vacancy at hand. If you, however, worked as a marketing assistant for six months when you were eighteen, then proceed to make up a bunch of other marketing roles that you’ve done since then, then that wouldn’t be ok. Knowing when to give the right details is an art when it comes to CV writing, and one that can affect your chances of nabbing an interview.
Hybrid Job Titles
For a lot of people, our job titles don’t necessarily encompass all of our role’s responsibilities. Though your job title might be ‘Office Administrator’ your role might involve areas outside of administration, like sales. So if you’re applying for a job that is more down the sales route, you might change your title to ‘Sales Administrator’. As long as you aren’t lying about the skills and experience you gained in the role, most of the time there’s no harm in picking the best title for a hybrid role for clarity.
Gaps In Employment
If you’ve taken a year off between jobs in the past five years, from illness to unemployment, most of the time it’s better to be up front about your absences to an employer or recruiter. If you were out of work for a while and couldn’t find a job, try to list what progress you did make in that year, whether it’s volunteer projects, personal development workshops or building your personal brand. You’re more likely to move on quickly from the gap than if you lie or hope you aren’t called out. If you took time off because of a serious illness that you’d rather not dwell on that for future roles then it might be reasonable not to list reasons for absence from work, but most of the time clarity and honesty will work in your favour.
Get creative with how you word the descriptions of your previous roles to suit the job you’re applying for, without lying about any details. For example, if you ran a successful ice cream business for several years but you’re now interested in a job in sales, then instead of focussing on day-to-day tasks involved in running the business, like making the ice cream, greeting customers and managing staff, focus on how you sold your product and the methods you used to market and attract customers. Most jobs have transferable skills so make the most of the skills and knowledge you gained in areas that might not seem obvious.
Need any more tips on sprucing up your CV? Check out our other blogs or keep up to date with our news, events and vacancies on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Looking for a new job? Scroll through our current vacancies or give us a phone on 0141 212 5130 to chat about opportunities for you.