Tuesday 14 January 2020 5:50 am

Telling tall tales? Why job seekers are lying on their CV

The job market is intense, both for candidates, who have to stand out among hundreds of competitors, and for businesses, which have to spot the best talent from hundreds of applications. As a result of this challenge, an increasing number of businesses are turning to technological solutions in the hiring process.

However, as businesses start using more tech to find and hire the best talent, job seekers across the UK are looking for quick hacks to get ahead. 

Our recent research, entitled “Hiring Humans vs Recruitment Robots”, found that 69 per cent of job seekers have gamed the system to their advantage. A third (36 per cent) had updated the skills on their CV to match the required criteria, whether or not they actually had that skill, while 22 per cent had searched online to find out how other people had been hired. 

Nearly a fifth (19 per cent) used buzzwords in their CV in order to manipulate an automated system, or had lied or exaggerated about their experience to get to the interview stage. 


Of course, it’s perfectly natural for job seekers to adapt their profile and mention keywords for skills they have, or are close to having, that fit the job ad. Being “good” at something might become “excellent” on an application form, for example. 

But where the line is crossed is when candidates deliberately lie about the skills they have, or look for ways in which they can game the system. This leads to UK businesses getting the best liars, and missing out on the best — and most honest — talent. 

This probably has you thinking: let’s just get rid of technology then. But technology and automation do have their benefits — 42 per cent of respondents agreed that automation in recruitment makes things easier, and only 23 per cent said it makes it harder. 

A vast number of candidates prefer applying online, too — 79 per cent said that recruitment apps have had a positive impact on their job search. And it helps many feel more confident to make the first move from behind the safety of a screen.  

As technology becomes more advanced, an increasing number of useful, time-saving technologies can be developed. It also helps firms remove the boring admin bits of recruitment, such as scheduling interviews or keeping candidates updated on their progress — we all know that the small things can make a big difference. 

Given the advantages that this technology offers for recruiters and businesses, the challenge is to mitigate any distrust that applicants might feel. You have to strike the right balance between human and technology, ensuring that candidates can apply in a way that works for them, without the worry that they’re being gamed out of the process — or the wrong people are being gamed in. 

Recruiters who strike this balance will find technology working for them in the right ways — saving time that they can use for searching, interviewing, and engaging with people. 


The key thing is knowing where technology will augment, and where it will hinder. Too many obstacles, and you will end up with candidates who are willing to cheat to get ahead. 

But with the right amount, you can spot the diamond in the rough, while keeping candidates happy at all points of the hiring process.

Dean Sadler is chief executive of TribePad.

Main image credit: Getty

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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