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Pants on fire?

Pants on fire?


10 Dec, 2019

You can’t get away with little white lies on your CV any more, says author and careers advice expert, Edd Williams. Here he shares his extensive experience of working on more than 100,000 CVs over the past decade, in light of survey results which revealed that three in five employers have rejected a candidate for lying on their CV

Edd Williams has long been helping people to get jobs. He’s worked with global corporations and tiny SMEs. He has spoken to CEOs and graduate trainees. He has found engineers in South Korea and nuclear scientists who speak French to work in Norway on contracts. He has spoken to literally thousands of people, either to understand what they are looking for in a job or what they are looking for in an employee. He’s coached them through interviews – to actively listen, to mirror body language, to ask the right questions, to be confident but not arrogant, the right way to shake hands, how to close the deal …

Edd has studied, edited and written more than 100,000 CVs: 25–30 CVs a day, 260 days a year for almost two decades really stacks up. He’s a man who really knows CVs – inside out – and he’s here to give you the benefit of his wisdom …

‘When I first started out in recruitment it was a different time. I don’t say that as some sort of happy recollection of a halcyon era – quite the opposite in fact: it was time and labour intensive just to get a CV on to your desk. Cold calling, large newspaper adverts, days of interviewing in motel lobbies. Things we take for granted nowadays simply didn’t exist then: the internet was by no means as ubiquitous as it is now and, if you wanted a CV, you’d often have to wait three to five days for someone to post it through, and then the same again to get it over to a client. LinkedIn didn’t exist, so fact-checking and referencing was harder, and consequently people could get away with lying on their CVs, or at least “embellishing”.

‘Fast-forward to today and that is no longer the case. While once the received wisdom seemed to be to lie within your capabilities, now I would advise scrupulous honesty as your best and only chance of success. The first thing I, and many employers I work with, do is to check someone’s social media footprint. You look for inconsistencies between their LinkedIn profile and their CV. Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter all offer insights on how they present themselves to the world and what they really feel about certain issues. Whereas, once, a candidate was able to handpick those that would speak up for them as a referee, now all an employer needs to do is approach a shared connection on LinkedIn and ask a few questions regarding what X person did, or check out the drunken rants on their Twitter feed.

‘The law is very clear regarding official reference-giving, but you can’t stop the inevitable democratisation of the process, and peer-to-peer recommendations are now often the quickest and easiest route for an employer to sanity-check a prospective candidate. Even the smallest white lies can blow up in your face because of this, so don’t lay claim to languages you can’t speak, state hobbies you don’t enjoy or say you manage people that you don’t (the most common one by far). Recruiting anyone is all about credibility and gravitas – if you can’t trust a candidate to level with you at the beginning of a relationship then everything that follows is tarnished, from their engagement in the process, their motivations for moving (will they accept a buy-back) and ultimately how they will perform in front of stakeholders once in post. It’s too big a risk for the employer and fundamentally for the candidate if they are serious about the role.’

Edd Williams’ book, Is Your School Lying To You? Get the Career You Want, Get the Life You Deserve, is out now in paperback (240pp), published by Ortus Press and available from the usual retailers.

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