Lying on your job application is both risky and unnecessary.
There’s a reason why ‘honesty is the best policy’ is a popular saying – small lies lead to bigger lies which lead to stress and a risk of being caught out.
When applying for a job, it can be tempting (and even encouraged, which is worrying in itself) to embellish the truth a step too far. It is easy to find examples where this has had serious repercussions for people who have employed some risky methods to secure a job.
The legal position.
The law varies from country to country but the core of any law relating to this area considers lying on a job application, CV or resume as a type of fraud. In the same way that falsifying documents about your income to secure a mortgage is fraud, so too is falsifying details about yourself to secure paid work. In Washington, US, this can even extend into what you say at interview with 2006 legislation stating that “giving or using a fake or otherwise unaccredited degree a class C felony, a crime of fraud that could warrant five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.” (Source)
Are your qualifications ‘real’?
The legislation above came as part of a Diploma-Mill Bill following the revelation that a number of people in public office in the US had been appointed on the strength of qualifications awarded by unaccredited institutions. These would sell titles and qualifications without the need for formal education or assessment. In the same vein a UK television doctor, Gillian McKeith, was a high-profile example of an unaccredited doctorate seriously denting her successful career. Whether you are referring to first-aid training, your driving license or a PhD, you must be sure that the awarding body are recognized and legitimate for the sector you wish to enter.
The devil is in the detail
This year a trainee accountant lost his job when it was discovered that a B-grade for English Literature on his CV was actually a D-grade. Even though his defence highlighted that he had made a mistake and that the subject was irrelevant to his work Mr Seehootoorah was dismissed from his role and a tribunal later upheld that dismissal.(Source)
Sometimes the law catches up with people
A 2-year suspended sentence was handed out to recruitment consultant Ross Etherson in February 2015 after he confessed to changing the CVs of 8 doctors to help secure positions for them at NHS hospitals. The presiding judge remarked that ‘It is fortunate that there is no occasion where such lack of experience on behalf of one of these doctors impacted on the health of a patient. But that was purely down to luck.’ (Source)
In 2006 Rhiannon Mackay was jailed for 6 months for lying about her qualifications on her CV to secure a job – as well as forging a letter of recommendation from her previous employer the Royal Navy. An interesting note from her case was that once she had made the false claims on her CV, she re-used it a number of times to apply for 11 other roles, something taken into account as part of her trial. If you have a false resume or CV uploaded to a job-matching site or job-board, that white-lie about your lifeguard qualification still being in date could be being distributed more widely than you think.
Does anyone need to lie?
The details above show that it is a bad idea – that’s for sure – but what if you really really want to get that job? Will the reward outweigh the risk?
“Not at all,” says James Innes, bestselling author of The CV Book “in fact it’s completely the wrong direction to take when you really want to get your application noticed. Where the majority of applicants lose out is in not marketing their actual skills and experience in an effective way! When presented in a confident and eloquent manner you’d be surprised how good you can sound on paper. People are naturally reticent about talking about what they are good at and the secret to a strong job application is doing just that without resorting to lying.”