Author and careers/careers advice expert, Edd Williams, shares his extensive experience of working on more than 100,000 CVs over the past decade, in light of the recent survey results showing three in five employers have rejected a candidate for lying on their CV.
“When I first started out in recruitment about a decade and a half ago it was a different time, I don’t say that as some sort of happy recollection of a halcyon era, quite the opposite in fact, it was time and labour intensive just to get a CV on to your desk. Cold calling, large newspaper adverts, days of interviewing in travel hotel lobbies. Things we take for granted nowadays simply didn’t exist then, the internet was by no means as ubiquitous as it is now and if you wanted a CV you’d often have to wait 3-5 days for someone to post it through and then the same again to get them over to a client. LinkedIn didn’t exist so fact-checking and referencing was harder and consequently people could get away with lying on their CVs or at least ’embellishing’.
Fast forward to today and that is no longer the case, when once the received wisdom seemed to be to lie within your capabilities, now I would advise scrupulous honesty as the best and only chance of success. The first thing I, and many employers I work with do, is check someone’s social media footprint. You look for inconsistencies from their LinkedIn profile to their CV. Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter all offer insights on how they present themselves to the world and what they really feel about certain issues. When once a candidate was able to handpick those that would speak up for them as a referee, now all an employer needs to do is approach a shared connection on LinkedIn and ask a few questions regarding what X person did or check out their drunken rants on their Twitter feed.
The law is very clear regarding official reference-giving but you can’t stop the inevitable democratisation of the process and peer-to-peer recommendations are now often the quickest and easiest route for an employer to sanity-check a prospective candidate. Even the smallest white lies can blow up in your face because of this, so don’t lay claim to languages you can’t speak, state hobbies you don’t enjoy or manage people that you don’t (the most common one by far). Recruiting anyone is all about credibility and gravitas, if you can’t trust a candidate to level with you at the beginning of a relationship then everything that follows is tarnished – from their engagement in the process, their motivations for moving (will they accept a buy-back) and ultimately how they will perform in front of stakeholders once in post. It’s too big a risk for the employer and fundamentally for the candidate if they are serious about the role.”