I am starting to think that it may well be my CV that is letting me down. Personally, I don't think it's too bad, but it's obviously not hitting the right spot with prospective employers and I think it's probably because I am not a graduate. Having sat through the last series of The Apprentice and seen Lee win even though he lied on his CV, do you think it's worth me being a bit more creative with my CV and throw in a few little "white lies"? After all, what harm can it do?
A: It all depends on how well you sleep at night. I normally sleep very soundly, safe in the knowledge that my current employers will probably never bother checking whether I really do have the qualifications that I have included on my CV.
However, should they ever ask to see my Cycling Proficiency Certificate, then I'm buggered, especially when they realise I have never completed the course. They will probably ask for the company bicycle back.
Therefore, I do not recommend lying on your CV. If you use this method to gain a pay hike and your employer finds out, you risk going to prison.
In 2003, the BBC reported the story of Neil Taylor, a former NHS trust chief executive, who falsely claimed to be a graduate and received a 12-month suspended sentence.
Taylor had been doing the job for some time and his lie was only discovered when the NHS trust he was working for merged with another. There was never any doubt that he could do the job and he had glowing references from everyone he had worked with.
Ironically, Taylor probably didn't actually need the degree to do the job, but the judge's view was different. He felt that people who lie about qualifications undermine the efforts of everyone who completes a course and obtains a proper qualification.
Of course, The Apprentice's Lee McQueen received a lot of positive media coverage. The consensus seemed to be that he was a bit of a chancer and used his initiative. Personally, I think he was lucky to have been kept in the show.
However, companies increasingly don't just rely on CVs, but use psychometric testing to decide whether a candidate is suitable for a job. This means that lying on your CV is pointless anyway, as this is becoming just one factor in deciding a candidate's suitability.
If you feel you do not have the qualifications that an employer is looking for, then you are better off looking for a different job. On the other hand, if you feel you are qualified but just don't have the certificate to prove it, then explain in your cover letter what experience or knowledge you do have that makes you right for the job.
Qualifications aside, there is nothing stopping you from exaggerating your previous experience.
I remember a friend of mine once describing a previous job on his CV as: "Being in charge of a mobile catering firm specialising in hand-crafted bespoke desserts." Obviously, this sounded better than "Ice Cream Van Man."
- David Emin is director of advertising at Mirror Group Newspapers. If you have a career dilemma you would like David to address, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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