There’s no shortage of jokes about lying on your CV, and the reason why most of us chuckle when we hear them is because we all know someone who’s inflated their GCSE grades or exaggerated their experience. It’s seen as fair game to embellish your CV, as long as it gets you the job. Employers know it goes on though, and surveys estimate that as many as 65% of CVs have mistruths on them. Some minor lies won’t matter; do you really care whether an applicant plays the piano or paints watercolours in their spare time? But other lies are more serious and spotting them is the key to effective recruitment.
Check Their Social Media
If you have any doubts about a candidate’s career history, a good place to look is somewhere like LinkedIn, or other social media sites. LinkedIn in particular is widely used by job hunters, and if you suspect that a candidate has created a job history or given themselves additional responsibilities, you can check to see whether their job history on LinkedIn matches what they are telling you. Many candidates are advised to keep work posts off their personal Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter feeds, but it’s still worth having a look to make sure there’s nothing which contradicts what they have said on their CV.
Mind the Gap
Candidates know that employers are suspicious about gaps on CVs without any explanation. Many will just adjust the periods of employment to cover gaps but many slip up, claiming to be employed by two companies at the same time, for example. Others will try to cover a gap by saying they were volunteering or travelling, so you should try to corroborate this. Gaps on a CV aren’t necessarily a problem – but lying about the reason for that gap might be.
Mismatch Between Education and Work History
If a candidate appears to have a degree in one subject, then has jumped between several positions in completely unrelated industries, then you should be suspicious. Of course, it’s possible to go from a Geology degree to a position in marketing then into banking and finally into civil engineering, but it’s not the norm. Don’t automatically write them off as a liar, but the jumping between several industries or doing jobs completely unrelated to their education is definitely something you might want to explore in depth at the interview stage.
Waffle and Unclear Language
People know that it’s wrong to lie on CVs, so will try to justify it to themselves by waffling, using lots of jargon or inserting buzzwords in the hope you’ll be impressed. But when the language used is unclear and non-specific, it can be impossible to work out what an employee actually did. Again, this is something which you definitely need to go into an interview, asking for specific examples of responsibility to get to the bottom of what someone did on a daily basis. A skilled interviewer should be able to pick up quickly if the candidate really did leaf a big team on a million-pound project, or not.