“I see from your CV that you attended both Oxford and Harvard, have worked as a project leader for Microsoft, a BBC foreign correspondent and were voted ‘Miss Kazakhstan’ in 1997…”

Everybody massages their attributes to suit the job to which they are applying, but there is a fine line between manipulating facts and creating fiction. Today, we will focus briefly on CV cheating.

If you fabricate qualifications and employment history on your CV then you not only run the risk of being discovered but also risk leaving your career in tatters and your reputation in ruins.

However, if an employer doesn’t check your references and qualifications, and many employers do not have time, then you may get away with your deception. You will have secured yourself a job that would usually have been outside of your grasp.

The decision is yours, bear in mind that lying on your CV is not something to be undertaken lightly, and is certainly not something that Jobsite condones. It is a dangerous game that can, and most likely will have serious consequences on your career.

Massaging the truth

Your CV should be individually tailored to each job you apply for. You should push to the fore the skills and desirable features of your background that are most relevant to the job to which you are applying.

The need to show the employer what they want to see, in doing so securing an interview, can lead to applicants falsifying the facts. For example, a common deception is to exaggerate the time that you have worked in a previous position – writing 6 months instead of 4, or writing that you earned a 2:1 at degree level instead of a 2:2.

Applicants make all sorts of extravagant claims on their CVs. Some have been known to write a different degree qualification on each application they send out.

Top five CV fibs:

  • Saying you worked for a company longer than you did
  • Making up qualifications
  • Manufacturing work experience
  • Making up hobbies and interests
  • Making up attributes – for example, that you are organized

Can you get away with it?

The interview

No matter what you write on your CV you should be prepared to justify its contents in an interview. If you cannot talk lucidly about your education, previous work experience and every other detail you have transcribed then the interviewer will see through your deception far quicker than you expect.

Hesitation and a lack of confidence expressed in your body language and tone can indicate to an interviewer that you are being less than honest. It will be here where you are undone.

To reach the interview stage you will have shown that you have the qualifications for the job. At the interview, you have to reinforce your work and academic experience with your personality.

A question that often arises is “tell me about yourself” if you have written a pack of lies on your CV you have to hope that your acting skills are good enough, more often than not they will be well below par.


To substantiate work experience details employers ask for references from your previous employers. Often they will request that you bring your references with you to an interview or that you send them in afterward, possibly after you have been offered the job.

It has been known for HR managers to offer a job to a candidate, asked for references, then never hear from that candidate again. Not only will this ‘burn your bridges’ with that particular company you are also running the risk of burning your bridges with a number of other companies should you build up a reputation of acting in this way.

Unless you can convince a friend to pose as your ex-employer or are an excellent counterfeiter then producing fake references is difficult and highly inadvisable.

Psychometric testing

Psychometric testing is increasingly used in the recruitment process. Employers use testing to assess a candidate’s attributes and their suitability for the job. A skills-based psychometric test and a personality test should be able to see through a candidate’s CV deceptions.

Those that think that they can cheat on a psychometric test may be surprised at how difficult it is. Good psychometric tests take into account that applicants may refine their responses to what they think the employer wants to see.

For example, tests subtly repeat questions phrased differently to see if the response is the same. In many cases, this can be a clear indication of the candidate’s inconsistency.

In the case of personality tests, there is no right or wrong answer so it may be tricky to gauge what attributes an employer is looking for.

Working on the job

If you do get a job based upon manufactured qualifications you must hope that you have the skills to do the job competently. If you are unable to do the work you will not retain the post for very long.

Convincing an interviewer is one thing, but if you get the job you will then be required to convince your colleagues and clients that you are good enough to have been selected. They will be able to see through your inconsistencies very quickly and a damaged reputation can be very difficult to repair.

Cheating on your CV is easier (or harder) to get away with depending on what industry you work in. It would be very difficult to bluff your way into IT, engineering or chemistry without a solid education and background in those disciplines.

Rely upon conscience and better judgement

Blatantly lying on your CV is a risky business and not at all recommended. It is a short sighted solution to a larger problem – that of not having the skills you require to progress along the career path you want.

If you are serious about entering a profession you are not currently qualified for, instead of manufacturing qualifications on your CV, go back to college and earn them. Instead of making up experience, go out and find a company that will provide you with the experience that you strive for.

If you are thinking about radically embellishing your qualifications and experience on your CV perhaps you should think twice because if you do not possess the qualities required for the job you will be found out….sooner or later…

-Thanks a lot for reading our article – CV cheating! is it wise to bend the truth? Hopefully, you will read and enjoy it. Have a good day!