In a recent UK based HEDD graduate survey, results showed 33 per cent of candidates lied in their CV. We all know having a high standard of integrity is vital in everything we do, especially in the career space, and being caught out in a "tiny little untruth" can really unsettle a screener. Therefore, what are some of the common lies out there, and how can a reader dig down to see if there is a question in a CV that needs to be investigated further?

Common CV Lies
Flashing up your education

This one is of course highly common with candidates improving their overall grades, changing their major subjects, or even completely fabricating degrees they have gained.

Overstating job title and responsibilities


Expanding a job title from "Receptionist" to "Office Manager" or from "Sales Representative" to "Sales Manager" can sink a candidate's application quickly when caught out.

Employment dates

Extending your tenure a month or two, or 10, can again be tempting for many candidates when they have a gap they feel they need to fill.

Companies employed by

Some organisations have a stronger brand than others, especially within the employment space. For many this is too tempting a target and they blatantly include previous employment at one of these "premium" brands, hoping they won't be caught out.

How can I find the truth?

Though the whole point of white lies is they are difficult to spot, you can sometimes start to get an idea of what "stacks up" and what doesn't in an applicant's CV through some insightful research including:

Checking social media


It's always amazing what people put up in the public space about themselves. Even a cursory look at a person's social media profile may start to give you some pointers about what to research further.

Assessing the CV versus the LinkedIn profile

When telling a white lie in their CV, many people then forget to copy over the new "fact" into their LinkedIn profile, leaving a glaring gap between their CV and their online presence. This is especially true for job titles and employment dates.

Strong referee checks

No matter what job you are recruiting for, you must always have highly robust verbal referee checks. This also gives you a great opportunity to "drill down" on a particular "fact" in a person's CV, to ensure they are telling the truth.

Behavioural questions

The bane of a candidate's life, behavioural questions (the ones that usually start with "give me an example of a time when"…) force an interviewee to give an example to a specific experience or challenge. If a candidate doesn't have this experience, it is very difficult to make up a realistic sounding answer on the spot.

Remember that when an employer finds a small "white lie" on a candidate's CV, this makes them think there are probably many other untrue facts hidden beneath the surface. Be honest during the hiring process, and you won't have to remember those little white lies that will probably come back to haunt you.

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