Our mums always used to say that liars always get found out and that it’s always best to tell the truth. So why is it that as many as one in four people lie on their CVs?
One person who got caught out big time was Shirley Hornstein, who described herself as an ‘Angel Investor and (dare I say) Entrepreneur’. She has publicly apologised after fooling half of Silicon Valley into thinking she was some kind of business genius by Photoshopping herself into pictures with some high profile stars – including Justin Timberlake, who is a major investor in MySpace and played Napster founder Shawn Fanning in The Social Network.
Shirley Hornstein claimed she was working for Founders Fund, a company run by the founders or investors of companies like Facebook and PayPal that helps digital start-ups in San Francisco. She would namedrop celebrities and Silicon Valley bigshots and then photoshop herself into pictures with them on her Facebook page to back up her claims. Her claims even helped her make it into a list of the top female angel investors that was published on business magazine Forbes’ website.
But the truth was, she wasn’t working for Founders Fund (in fact they took legal action to stop her from claiming she worked for them), she didn’t know any of the stars she claimed to and she wasn’t an angel investor.
When she was outed by TechCrunch as a liar, Shirley Hornstein didn’t only lose her job, but also a lot of her friends. In her apology on her blog she claims that she’s committed to changing her behaviour. And while it is important that she stops lying, it would be more important not to do it in the first place.
Obviously this is a pretty extreme example. But is it always wrong to lie when you're trying to get ahead in your career?
The short answer is yes. As we said already, liars almost always get caught out. In the situation of applying for a job with false information, being caught out could mean losing a job or, even worse, being prosecuted for fraud.
When the job market is as tough as it is at the moment, just getting your CV noticed can be a tough challenge. Adding a few ‘embellishments’ like a slight change in dates of jobs to cover an employment gap, exaggerating what you actually did on that work experience placement where you mainly made tea for two weeks, or claiming your qualifications are better than they actually are can be a big temptation but it’s one you should really avoid.
If you’re found out for having lied at the application stage not only is it embarrassing, it also calls your credibility into question. And it will most likely prevent you from ever getting a job with that particular company as you’ll probably get blacklisted.
If you’re offered a job when you’ve lied on your application or CV though, it could be a whole lot worse. It’s actually against the law to lie in order to get a job: one woman was jailed for six months for doing so.
In short, don’t lie on your CV. You will get found out and you could end up going to jail. If you think your CV is lacking then work on improving it, get work experience placements, improve your skills, or do some volunteering to make it stronger and help get it noticed when you apply for jobs.