The Importance of Being Honest

Lying on your job application is both risky and unnecessary.

Importance of Being Honest

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.”

How not to apply for a new job

Mistakes you shouldn't make when applying for jobs.

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There’s that moment before you send a job application where you hesitate for a moment – have you attached the correct version of your resume? How have you signed off the email? Did you put your personal email address or your work one? You check off the small details which you know will have a bearing on how your application is viewed and hit SEND.

Unfortunately some people miss out that step where they sense-check their application and rather than an invitation for interview, they become famous for all the wrong reasons. Here are four examples of what not to do:

Don’t attach the wrong documents to your application.

In Scotland, Heather Nab managed to attach a Jamie Oliver beef stew recipe instead of her CV. She didn’t get the job but did get a tweet from Jamie Oliver.

Don’t send naked selfies to the HR manager who has offered you a job.

A man in Illinois who had already been offered a job then sent naked pictures of himself on two separate occasions to the HR manager who had made the job offer. While the details of the incident state that he claims he did so accidentally, reports confirm that the job offer has since been withdrawn.

Click here for the full report on Huffington Post.

Don’t overstate your abilities and achievements.

The late Aleksey Vayner became an internet sensation in 2006 when a video resume he had prepared to apply for a job at a New York investment bank was leaked and shared online. In the video ‘Impossible is Nothing’ he is heard interviewing himself and seen demonstrating his prowess in a range of activities. True or not, the manner in which he explained his skills clearly failed to impress recruiters and was seen as simply amusing and absurd.

Don’t send anything before you have sense-checked it!

Cover Letters from Hell


The ‘Cover Letters from Hell’ page on the Killian Branding website is a treasure trove of awful mistakes, malapropisms and gobbledygook that they have received in job applications to their firm. Given that they have this many examples and they are just one company, it goes to show how frequent these kind of errors are.

If you have applied to Killian Branding and never heard back, perhaps go and see if some of your words made it into their Hall of Shame.

You can read the full list on their page Cover Letters from Hell

Need a second opinion?

The James Innes Group offer free CV and Resume review services- a simple 5-point check of some of the key areas where people tend to make mistakes. If you’d like to have a fresh set of eyes look at yours, then please click the relevant link below to get started.

CV Reviews:   GB | Ireland | New Zealand | South Africa

Resume Reviews: US | Canada | Australia

Assessment Centres – How To Succeed

What are “Assessment Centres”?

Assessment Centres are becoming increasingly popular with employers and are considered by many to be the most reliable, objective and fair process of selecting suitable candidates. Traditionally, Assessment Centres have formed the second stage of the interview process, but employers are now often using them as a first interview, enabling them to create a shortlist of the most suitable applicants.

Assessment Centres generally consist of a series of individual and group exercises and tasks specifically designed to gauge your actual ability to perform a job – rather than simply relying on what you say your capabilities are. As a result, the employer can make an informed judgement on your future job performance based on the personal and technical skills that you have demonstrated.

The programme of events is often very intensive and may require an overnight stay with the other candidates, so it is essential to create a positive impression for the duration of the programme. Although certain stages may appear to be informal, you are more than likely to be monitored throughout. The programme may include a social or informal gathering with other candidates, selectors, senior managers and employer representatives who have recently graduated from the Assessment Centre themselves. This is an invaluable opportunity for you to find out more about the company from people at different levels within the organisation. The potential employer may well be assessing your ability to entertain future clients so your behaviour should be impeccable.

Group Activities

A number of the activities undertaken at an Assessment Centre will involve working in groups enabling the employer to assess your teamwork skills, your ability to listen to others and the way you react if your opinion is challenged. Group activities can include discussions (where you are assigned a particular subject and asked to form a conclusion as a group), and role play exercises involving each member of the group taking on a particular role and participating in discussions and negotiations to demonstrate their interaction and communication skills. Additionally, business scenarios can be simulated whereby the group has to perform certain tasks or challenges that may well arise in a normal business environment.

One of the keys to success in group activities is to remember that you will be competing against a set of pre-established standards, rather than against your fellow group members. Also, the employer may not necessarily be looking for someone who immediately takes the lead, but perhaps someone who integrates well with others, is willing to take on board the opinions of others and is capable of following instructions.


This is much more likely to be undertaken on an individual basis and involves dealing with a typical in-tray, consisting of various forms of correspondence and documentation. The task will be to ensure that appropriate action is taken to deal with each piece of information which can include drafting formal and informal written responses and preparing statistical reports. You may be assessed on how you prioritise the workload that you are faced with, how effectively you deal with each document, and how well you have read and understood the information. You may also be assessed on any notes you have made indicating further action that may be required, and on how much of the workload you are able to complete within the allowed timeframe.


The interviews that take place at Assessment Centres may differ from standard interviews in that they may be more in-depth and may also involve facing a panel of interviewers rather than just one interviewer. If this is the case, it is important to focus your attention on the specific interviewer posing the question while also ensuring that you include the other panel members in your glance to show that they too are included.

As in any interview situation, it is always beneficial to have done your homework on the company and be prepared to provide evidence of your skills and knowledge. Advice and tips on successful interview techniques can be found in Coping with Job Interviews, also compiled by The CV Centre®.


Sometimes, you may be required to prepare and deliver a short presentation, although you should be given prior warning of this to enable you to carry out any necessary research and to practice your presentation. Some key tips for the effective delivery of a presentation include: using notes but not working from a script; maintaining eye contact with your audience; using visual aids and handouts where appropriate, and ensuring that both the introduction and conclusion of your presentation are strong and effective. Further help on presentations can be found in Interviews – Presentations, also compiled by The CV Centre®.

Psychometric Tests

Psychometric tests are generally taken under exam conditions and are aimed at assessing your logical/analytical skills and your capacity for reasoning. Quite often, they will also be tailored towards the specific role for which you are applying so that the employer can get an idea of how you would perform in the role. It is essential to make sure you read and understand each question before attempting to answer it – don’t be tempted to rush and risk making careless mistakes.

Another commonly used psychometric test is a personality test where you may be assessed on how you respond to a given situation.


In general, you should do your best to relax and enjoy the Assessment Centre as much as you can, while remembering that you may be under observation at all times, even in seemingly informal situations. Try to be yourself at all times and show the employer that you have confidence in yourself and in your ability to perform the job for which you are applying.

Professional Interview Coaching

At The CV Centre®, day in day out, we successfully coach our clients to truly excel at interview.  This enables us to bring you the very best of what we have learnt – helping you to excel at interview yourself.

When it comes to interviews, people often think, “Well, I’ll just turn up and be myself.”  Which is fine, but it won’t get you the job!  You need to plan and prepare for an interview as you are still up against many other applicants and this is your key opportunity to make an impact. Your CV may get your foot in the door but you’re on your own in the interview – and sometimes the most able candidate on paper can really shoot themselves in the foot when they actually get to the interview.

On average, there’s likely to be at least 5 other candidates being interviewed for the same vacancy. So, everything else being equal, that gives you, at the most, a 20% chance of getting the job.  But there’s so much you can do to improve your odds of success.

Analyzing job adverts to ensure job hunting success

Responding to the right job adverts is crucial if you want to succeed at job hunting.

It’s always a waste of time to send out as many job applications as possible. You need to be more targeted in your approach and analyzing job adverts is a way of identifying the jobs that are really worth applying for.


Before you even start looking at job adverts as part of your job search, analyze your own experience, knowledge and skills. Ensure you tick the boxes in terms of what the employer is looking for. You should also aim to pick out keywords and phrases in job adverts and use them in your resume and cover letter.

Make a note of the skills they are asking for and the nature of the company. For example, a company may be described as ‘fast paced’, which means they need someone good at handling pressure and working to deadlines. Ultimately, you need to fit into the company and their values. Also, even if you only have 90% of the attributes they’re looking for, be clear on your potential and perhaps use experiences outside of work to demonstrate that you have everything they want.

Remember that it’s usually wise to apply for jobs that are the next level up in terms of seniority, unless you have a solid case to make about your ability to perform in a much more senior position.

You can use LinkedIn to obtain an insight into the skills and responsibilities of professionals who are doing the job you’re applying for. It may also be wise to speak to someone doing the job to gain a real insight that will place you ahead of your competition.

Following these tips and analyze job adverts, whilst comparing them against your abilities. It’s a sure-fire way to ensure you won’t be wasting anyone’s time by applying for the role.


Writing a high impact executive resume

To write a high impact executive resume, you must identify the key messages you wish to convey in advance and write your resume once your message in a clear and well-presented manner. Here’s how to write an impressive, high impact resume:

Use the right language
Try to convey leadership skills, behaviors, strategic thinking or other business skills when describing the achievements you have accrued throughout your career. Steer clear of examples of working under pressure or leading a team, which should be a given from someone of your caliber.

Use the right format
Use a clear, easy to read format and font. Remember that Arial and Times New Roman are favored. The most common file format is Microsoft Word.

Format is important
The best place for your personal information is the upper right hand corner. Use a personal email address rather than a work address too. Make the file name for your resume sensible too. Remember, at this stage, the smallest of details matter and help create a good impression.

Write a professional summary
Your professional summary will be noticed as it’s on the first half of the first page, so make sure it’s well written. Focus on your experience, knowledge and the skills you have acquired that set you apart from other executives.

Always put your experience in context too throughout your resume, explaining which skills and achievements apply to which job role. Focus on the past 3-5 years and use the second page to explain your experience and education in briefer detail. Ensure that you cover all of your education and work experience though, so there are no obvious gaps.

Be brief when describing education and training
Space on a resume is very valuable and is in short supply, so keep the details of your training and education brief. If you have attended a negotiation skills seminar, explain how you use negotiation in the workplace instead.

Alternatively, consider deploying the skills of executive resume writers. The Resume Center uses the services of professional resume writers, to give your resume the professional touch.