In such a competitive jobs market, there might be moments where you’re looking over your CV and asking yourself “is this really good enough?”. It’s perfectly natural to have doubts, particularly if you’ve been looking for a while and nothing has hit the target yet.

However, if you’re considering bulking out your CV with exaggerations and even flat-out lies in order to attract recruiters; think again!

A Nation of Liars

A survey from the UK Higher Education Degree Datacheck found that every year, 33% of job seekers falsify information on their CVs, with 40% overegging qualifications and 11% actually lying about degrees completely.

With more than one in ten applicants telling such whopping porkers in order to impress both in-house recruiters and specialist recruitment agencies, you might ask yourself “what’s the harm?”. The consequences of providing false information on your CV, however, can be quite severe.


The big “F-word.” You might understandably consider fibbing about your former jobs and qualifications to be a little white lie, but it can actually be classified as fraud and, if discovered, could eventually lead to legal action. They have reasonable recourse to do so, especially if your lack of experience or relevant qualifications means that you are unable to carry out the job sufficiently.

Even in the very best case scenario, if the lie nets you the job and your employer eventually finds out, it will almost certainly cost you that job and there will be a black mark against your name that will be almost impossible to wipe clean.

A Slight Exaggeration

Whilst lying about former jobs, degrees and qualifications is a terrible idea even at the best of times, you might assume it would be harmless to exaggerate your skills and interests. These lies can often come back to bite you where it hurts though. For example, if you’re applying for a C-suite job at a company that manufactures computer software, you might assume that adding a sentence or two to your CV or covering letter about how good you are with computers and coding might net you the interview.

However, further down the line, once you’re safely nestled in this new job, if one of your employees or peers has a problem they assume you can fix because of your ‘expert coding knowledge’ you will be exposed and the ramifications could be dire.

Make the Most of it

Improving your CV without lying is a skill in and of itself and it’s something that you’ll get better at with practice and perseverance. Always emphasize your relevant skills and try to think of any (legitimate) hobbies or interests that might help endear you to recruiters.

By all means feel free to slightly exaggerate your enthusiasm for certain relevant topics as long as you know at least enough about them to get by, but know where and when to make those claims and always think ahead.

Do not

  • Lie about citizenship.
  • Falsify degrees or qualifications.
  • Make up former job titles or exaggerate the responsibilities and titles you held at former places of employment.
  • Shift dates around to hide periods of unemployment.
  • Include fake references from former or completely fabricated employees.


  • Use affirmative wording and phrasing that shows off your best qualities.
  • Mention and expand upon your skills and successes.
  • Leave out anything that reflects badly on you.
  • Take credit for teamwork where you were a participating member.
  • Include references that are relevant to the jobs you’re applying for.

There is, of course, a major difference between showing yourself in the best light and completing disguising the facts, so never be afraid to acknowledge your accomplishments. However, lies are insidious things that have a way of coming to the surface eventually. Even if you do manage to ‘get away with it’ there’s always the inevitable ‘drop’ lurking on the horizon and you’ll be working twice as hard to cover your tracks.

Holding a lie together can be as trying as the job itself, so more often than not, it’s just not worth it. Although there is certainly nothing wrong with making the most of your good qualities and downplaying any perceived weaknesses, always try to remain within the realms of fact. Fiction can be fun, but it can also be dangerous, particularly when you’re essentially gambling on your career!