After I matriculated from Oxbridge at the age of sixteen I went on to become Jeffrey Archer. (Or why lying on your CV is neither big nor clever.)

As the closing date for UCAS personal statements draws inexorably closer I suspect there’s more than a few students who are inwardly wrestling with whether to soften the edges of certain truths to paint a more favourable picture. Whether it’s plagiarism, little white lies or enormous, industrial style juggernauts of lies it all comes down to one thing. Credibility. You may get away with it, now, but lies have long tails and sooner or later it will curl up and flick you in the butt and the stink of dishonesty will hang about you like stale cigarettes and booze after a night out.

I mention the above further to a recent report that claims, 3 out of 5 employers have turned away candidates after exposing lies on their CVs. In the hyper competitive environment we now have it just isn’t worth the risk. So whether it’s for UCAS, your first job or your fifth, you need to do as George Washington, (I cannot tell a lie…)

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. Linked In 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’.

Question mark
Lying on CVs, lying on UCAS or in an interview, will catch up with you, the long term fallout is not worth any potential short term gain (assuming there’s any to be had.)

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 Linked In profile to their CV and 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 Linked In 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 democratization 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.

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