Friday, February 13, 2015

The Ethics of CV Writing

I was recently sent a link to an article about CV writing. I found it quite interesting;  you can find it here at The Irish Times website:

It talks about how to stand out from the growing pile of CVs that recruiters receive. Interestingly, it discusses the number of people who lie on their CV. I have to admit, I was surprised that people seemed so willing to outright lying and fabricate work experience. Surely they must know that they will be caught out eventually? I have heard tales of exaggeration and embellishment, but it just seems so foolish to lie about academics, work experience, etc. My philosophy is that an employer should want to hire me based on who I am and what I have done, rather than who I pretend to be. Yes, I want to present myself in the best possible light, but that does not mean I should lie or exaggerate facts.

Is that naive of me?

Now, I have and never will lie or even exaggerate on my CV for fear that I would land the dream job and then have it rescinded because I lied - not to mention that lying on a CV would ruin any future opportunities with that employer. I recall my professor once telling me the story of a student who lied about his language abilities to enter a prestigious PhD program at an Ivy League university. He was accepted, moved to the US, and three months later took the language aptitude tests, failed, and was promptly booted out. Morals of the story: one, don't lie, it's stupid; two, do a PhD in the UK, language requirements are much more relaxed!!

However, I am interested in the division between:

  1. Outright lying
  2. Extreme exaggeration
  3. Slight embellishment
I don't think that I do any of these in my CVs, and maybe I naively hope that my academics and work experience will speak for themselves. But I wonder how else one can make an immediate impact in your CV, if the potential recruiter may only take a few seconds for an initial impression. Obviously, spelling and grammatical mistakes are important, avoiding cliched phrases and buzzwords, but do font-choice and formatting also play a role in an impactful CV? What else can help to catch the eye of the recruiter?

I would love to know what you think!

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