As recent graduates from the Class of 2022 head to the jobs marketplace to get a foot on the career ladder, the temptation might be there to stretch the truth or even outright lie on CVs and job applications or social media, but this is a terrible idea for a host of reasons, an education expert warns.
“In South Africa’s tough job market, competition for limited vacancies is fierce, and applicants may think that taking some liberty with the truth is justified or not a big deal, but going down this path holds terrible potential personal and professional consequences that can have a life-long impact on an individual’s employability,” says Dr Linda Meyer, MD of The Independent Institute of Education’s Rosebank College.
In South Africa, presenting a fraudulent qualification or claiming a qualification or experience you do not have is a criminal offence, It in terms of the National Qualifications Authority Amendment Act 12 of 2019, all employers must confirm employee qualifications and report any fraudulently presented qualifications to the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and the South African Police Service(SAPS). Employers should ethically also report fraudsters to Professional and Statutory Bodies.
While the threat of criminal prosecution is a risk worth taking for some, Dr Meyer warns that this is not the only – or even worst – consequence they will face if they are found out .
“Your CV is the first impression a potential employer will get of you, and it should showcase your qualifications, experience and other skills. But lying on your CV to stand out from other applicants is unethical, risky and illegal, and the chances that you’ll be found out – even if only down the line – are very real.”
Dr Meyer says if discovered, whether at the application stage or even after landing the position, individuals may be faced with the following consequences:
LOSS OF JOB OPPORTUNITY OR TERMINATION
You will almost certainly lose the opportunity if the lies are discovered during recruitment. . Most employers see honesty and integrity as crucial attributes, and any sign of dishonesty can be disqualifying. Perhaps even worse is if you land the job and questions start arising about your ability to fulfil the role you were hired for, and investigations into your qualifications are made. In addition to losing your job, you are very likely also to lose your reputation and credibility in the industry – which will be extremely hard, if not impossible, to regain.
And even if you’ve been working successfully in the position for some time, lying on your CV is grounds for dismissal, not to mention that you will always have that sword hanging over you, creating additional stress and anxiety in your work and personal life.
Being caught lying will harm your professional reputation, making it difficult to secure future employment. News can travel fast in specific industries, and hiring managers often share candidate information. Also, keep in mind that one lie suggests there may be more… So perhaps you indeed hold the first qualification listed on your CV, but you inserted additional false information about courses completed or experience gained. Doing so will now also question the validity of the truth claims you made on your resume.
Depending on the nature of the lie, there could be potential legal repercussions. For instance, you could be liable for fraud if you claim to have specific qualifications legally required for the position, particularly for certain professions requiring a licence from a professional or statutory body.
Furthermore, employers may be able to claim damages for any harm arising from your employment if it was gained under false pretences.
Lying on your CV can impacting your ability to emigrate and find employment elsewhere in the world. If you lied abroad, you face deportation. A criminal record will almost always preclude you from working in most countries.
Besides the practical implications and potential criminal fallout, the constant fear of being discovered can lead to significant stress and anxiety, which will affect the impact your work and other areas of your life.
“Honesty is always the best policy regarding your CV, no matter how tempting or trivial lying on your CV might seem. It’s far better to be upfront about any gaps or shortcomings in your employment history or qualifications and then focus on your skills, accomplishments, and potential value to the organisation. That way, you can build relationships based on trust and integrity right from the start and build your foundation on confidence, which will serve you well throughout your career,” Dr Meyer says.
“And given the importance of lifelong learning in today’s environment, it’s a winning strategy to rather focus on actually gaining the skills and experience you need through ongoing professional development throughout your career.” Employers are typically recognised for their preference to hire based on aspects such as attitude, compatibility with the organisation’s culture, and the potential of the candidate. It is thus imperative to appreciate your unique attributes and accomplishments, directing your energy towards becoming an exemplary achiever who seizes every prospect for growth and enrichment that your career path presents.