What do I tell potential employers?
"Pinocchio 1940" by Walt Disney. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
A curriculum vitae (CV) should emphasise your achievements, strengths and successes, and while language can be used to sell these (and you) in the best light, avoid giving untrue or misleading information.
Remember, anything in your CV could be discussed at interview, be checked out, or be relied on in terms of the duties you are required to perform. If you exaggerate or lie about skills or achievements you risk being caught out at an interview, or later down the line.
What can go wrong?
If you’ve often changed jobs, or had big employment gaps, you could instead sell and highlight your experience and achievements by using examples from previous jobs that demonstrate the skills required for the role applied for, unless setting out your full employment history is specifically required (such as through a prepared application form). However, even if there are big gaps or regular changes in your employment, think carefully as to why this is the case as you may be able to draw the positives out of your experience.
• Criminal convictions
Unspent criminal convictions should be disclosed if requested. However, subject to certain exceptions, a “spent” conviction need not be disclosed, even where there is a direct request for information.
One exception, however, is where an application is for a notifiable profession, of which veterinary medicine is one. Therefore, depending on the role applied for, even spent convictions may have to be disclosed. Withholding information about a relevant conviction could lead to an offer of employment being withdrawn or, where employment has started, dismissal.
• Current salary
There is no requirement to disclose your current salary, although a discussion about salary and benefits may be useful at the interview stage so the parties can establish expectations.
There is no obligation to tell an interviewer if you suffer from any health issues. He or she should not make enquiries of your health before an offer of employment is made unless it is to establish whether any adjustments are needed for the purposes of the recruitment process, to assess if you are able to carry out a function that is intrinsic to the role or for the purposes of equal opportunities monitoring.
After an offer of employment has been made, employers are then able to make enquiries about your health and, should anything arise from any report, prompt a discussion with you about your ability to carry out the role and any adjustments that may be needed.
Similarly, there is no requirement to tell an interviewer you are pregnant and he or she should not ask. However, if you later start employment, you should inform your employer of your pregnancy at least 15 weeks before the due date. If you need to take paid time off for antenatal care, or you wish your employer to carry out a health and safety risk assessment before then, you will need to tell the company of your pregnancy earlier.
A prospective employer may draw inferences from your failure to name your most recent employer as a referee as this would be usual, and may be a requirement of the application form. However, in theory, it is for you to choose your referees. Remember that those providing a reference have a duty to ensure it is true, accurate and not misleading. As such, most employers now provide a factual reference only (for example, confirming employment dates and job title) without any comment on your abilities.
• CV checks
Employers are becoming increasingly vigilant in checking the information given in CVs and application forms. Offers of employment will often be conditional on verifying qualifications, experience and references as well as passing security and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.
A small glorification on something insignificant may not come back to haunt you, but lying on a CV about qualifications, skills or experience you have, or failing to mention something significant, may well lead to the legitimate withdrawal of an offer of employment, or lead to the fair termination of your employment.
Aside from losing your job, employers could bring a civil claim for misrepresentation and claim damages for any loss arising from this. In extreme circumstances, deception can be seen as a criminal offence leading to imprisonment for fraud.