I have just made it through a highly complex and lengthy interview with a large social network but upon receiving the contract today, I am somewhat afraid of the consequences of having lied a little in my CV, seeing as they are doing extensive background checking and will require certificates.

In my CV I mentioned I have finished high school, but in fact, I didn't.
I also put one of my job positions as "Senior" because at one stage, I held that name internally, but it was a mistake made by HR and was corrected shortly, however I was too proud to change LinkedIn at the time and eventually just kept using it in my CV.

Could this be a deal breaker?
If I am honest, I may not be able to obtain a certificate easily without going to my native country (I'm in the UK and I'm from Moldova).

  • I don't agree that this has to be closed as opinion based question. Makes sense to keep this open. Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 13:49
  • You should be fiiiiine. Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 18:33
  • 1
    Hi, I am quite interested in this...do tell us how it went! Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 10:02
  • @EvilWashingMachine: maybe he's in jail now, or was kicked out of the UK back to Moldavia. Commented Mar 28, 2014 at 20:25

4 Answers 4


Lying about qualifications is never a good idea as they are easily confirmed. Even lying about things that cannot be confirmed are not minimal as they reflect poorly on your character if found out. It is much easier to get the proper experience or qualifications than it is to undo the harm to your character from dishonesty.

Yes, this could be a deal-breaker.

Lying and Getting Caught

If you lie about something big, you're more likely to get caught. If you lie about something small, you're less likely to be caught, but there's less benefit to lying in the first place.

Qualifications are easily checked. If I say I graduated from Oxford University, a quick call to the university will quickly show that I didn't. If you lie about something that is as easily checked as what school you attended, whether or not you graduated, whether you have a certain professional certification, or what your previous job title was, you are almost certainly going to get caught.

The more important that qualification is to your resume, the more likely you are to get caught. If I am a professional lab technician with 15 years of experience, it probably wouldn't matter if I lied about winning the science fair in high school (it would be absurd to put that on there in the first place). But if I am applying for my first job as a mechanical engineer and tell them I graduated with an engineering degree, they will probably be pretty motivated to make sure I have that degree.

Lies Reflect Poorly on Character

If you are caught lying on one thing, what else are you lying about? If I find out you lied about your education, how can I trust that you aren't lying in the work you create? When you establish that you aren't trustworthy when you think it will benefit you, how can I trust anything that you do? If you are willing to lie on something so easy to verify, what are you lying about when it's hard to check to see the truth?

Many companies write in to their contracts that the employment can be immediately terminated if it turns out you lied during the application process.

How would you feel on the other side? If a company shorts your paycheck by $40/month, or gives you 2 days less leave than they promised, will you believe promises of raises or promotions? Would you trust that they are providing value to their customers when they are lying to their own employees? Lies plant a seed of doubt in the mind and impacts every dealing you have with the person who made those lies.

Reputation is Hard to Repair

Most people start from an assumption of trust. We believe that people are well-intentioned and are trying to do the right thing. If you lie, that goes away. Instead of starting from a position of mutual trust, you will start every interaction an assumption that you are lying again. People will look harder for faults, look for other signs of dishonesty, and be even more critical of you in general.

When this company calls your last company to confirm your position and it turns out the 'senior' was a mistake, how do you think the people in your previous company are going to react? Do you think that you will be able to get a recommendation from your old employer when you've shown that you are intentionally misrepresenting what you did there?

It takes a year to attain a qualification. Your reputation will follow you around for the rest of your life. If you feel that a qualification is required, don't lie about not having it, work on getting it and explain that you are in the process of getting it in your cover letter. By lying you lose more than just the chance at this one job. The working world is smaller than you think, and a reputation for dishonesty will follow you around longer than you may expect.

  • In fairness, I translated my CV from my mother tongue and I never felt my school was a requirement in any of the positions I had so far. I think I could claim I made a mistake when I judged I had high school, when in fact, I completed secondary school (that is actually the case). Re the senior, this is an error that can be explained. I did have that title internally for a few months, it just was an HR mistake. I don't think this would be something they'd remember of, but I could phone my old company and explain this.
    – CaseyJones
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 9:12
  • @JoeStrazzere Just out of curiosity do you think it's ok to lie about previous compensation to get a better deal this time around?
    – Thihara
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 10:59
  • @JoeStrazzere I agree, but previous compensation details are considered confidential and there's no mandate to disclose them. And I'm pretty sure no one will be disclosing these details in an application. Hence my question.
    – Thihara
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 5:02
  • @JoeStrazzere Well yes, if they insist on knowing that after politely declining to answer.
    – Thihara
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 9:04
  • @JoeStrazzere Well perhaps. Let's leave it at that. :-)
    – Thihara
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 3:25

I wanted to know if this could be a deal breaker?

Yes. Any lies can be a deal breaker.

If the company finds out during the interview/screening process they could simply refuse to hire you. Or, they could ask for an explanation and then decide if they wish to hire you or not.

If the company finds out after hiring you, it usually can be grounds for immediate dismissal. There were probably words to that effect on the job application. Though not as common, lies discovered later serve as an indicator that you are not trustworthy. Companies want to be able to trust their employees.

It's always best to be honest up front, then you wouldn't have these worries.

At this point you can choose to remain silent and hope for the best. Or you can be proactive and talk to HR to correct your "mistakes", and hope for the best.

We all make mistakes. Learn from it and move on.


Judging by the details you provided, you just made a wrong move. There is no any reason to make lies in CVs. If they will be doing an extensive background check, then expect the consequences.

I, too, look into CVs of applicants. Personally, I do not want any of those details they provided to be incorrect nor inaccurate. That's a big no-no for me. I'd rather recommend an honest person without much to brag about, to tell you honestly.

So... just wait for them to call you again, I suppose? I am sure you don't want to take back the CV you submitted to them. I don't recommend you to make more lies.

  • I forgot to mention that I'm past the interviews phase. I will be given a chance to provide the certificates up to a month after employment date. I'm hoping that during this time I will have a chance to impress to try and guarantee any chance of getting hired even at the face of not having correct information (which, given the different school systems across countries in europe, you can expect that to happen.) I don't intend to make more lies. A new revision of the CV fixes these problems, but unfortunately I didn't realize this early enough and it was sent without much revision or thought.
    – CaseyJones
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 3:51
  • Well, just get your hopes up. There's no turning back now if you really want to be employed there. Do your best! Just don't do it again in the future. :) Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 3:56
  • I just thought about this... Someone from there might see your post here (if your name is actually Casey Jones). Are you okay with that? The possibility is low, I think. Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 4:00
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    @caseyJones -a month's worth of chance to imporess almost never trumps a lie on your resume or CV. If they are asking for a certificate you don't have then there is a 100% chance they will find out. If you quit your current job for this one, you stand an excellent chance of being unemloyed in about a month's time. Lying on a CV about qualifications is a BIG deal and is not ever overlooked when you are caught.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 16:40

From my experience, I tend to exaggerate a little bit in my CV, such as skill levels etc. However this came back to haunt me when i started to work. Things like 'why are you not doing it right' or 'why is it taking soo long' tend to crop up just because I put the skill leve as proficient or expert.

As for job position, it is never a good thing to mislead the interviewer by adding title you never have or mistakenly had.

I had to change jobs multiple times to finally land my dream job, and after getting it wrong the first time, I decided that I would be honest and transparent, which was turned out to be the best thing.

Never think that you are smarter than the interviewer/HR, they are much more resourceful than you think.

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