When you are looking for a job and find one you really want or need, it may be tempting to exaggerate your skills, and unfortunately, some people end up lying on their CV.

Is there anything wrong with lying on your CV?

As the end of the year approaches, many school leavers start applying for jobs for the first time. In addition, post-lockdown, many people are looking to change jobs or even careers.

It is important to know what might happen if you stretch the truth about your skills, job experience or references in your job application.

A survey of job recruiters found 85 per cent of them said candidates exaggerated their skills and competency on their resumes. (Please see Despite recruiter confidence, exaggeration and skills gaps plague the hiring process, Monster, 21 October 2019.)

The simple truth is you shouldn't lie or distort the truth on your resume or job application when describing your previous job experience, qualifications or skills.

Is lying on your CV a criminal offence?

Under the law you can be fired or face court if you are found to have lied or even just exaggerated your qualifications when you applied for the job. (Please see Is CV fraud a crime? UNSW Newsroom, 18 December 2019.)

There is no protection under unfair dismissal laws for those who are appointed to a position, but are later found to have misled employers about their past work experience when they applied for the job.

The Fair Work Commission dismissed a claim for unfair dismissal after a Hertz employee was sacked for inaccurate information on his job application. (Please see Charles Tham v Hertz Australia Pty Limited T/A Hertz [2018] FWC 3967.)

And if you outright lie on your job application - invent qualifications or work experience you don't have - then it can cost you financially and harm your future job prospects.

What are the possible consequences of lying on your CV?

According to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, an estimated 25 per cent of job seekers have inaccuracies on their resume. (Please see Resume fraud is a costly problem, but one you can manage, ICAC, November 2016.)

ICAC warns resume fraud can amount to the crimes of fraud and forgery. Curriculum vitae inaccuracies or lies could come under the tort of deceit and leave the fibber liable for damages.

Resume liars could face court for fraud, along with the prospect of being banned by professional bodies.

Obtaining financial advantage by deception leads to corrections order

A man hired by the Myer department store chain as a general manager on a $400,000 salary was fired on his first day after the company discovered he had lied on his CV, claiming to have worked in other highly paid jobs.

He pleaded guilty to obtaining financial advantage by deception and was sentenced to a three-year corrections order, including 400 hours of community service. (Please see DPP v Flanagan [2015] VCC 1084.)

False work history can lead to dismissal or jail

In another case a woman appointed to a senior government position in South Australia was arrested after lies were discovered on her CV. She had written a false 20-year work history, claimed fake university degrees and used a false alias to act as her own referee.

She was sentenced to 25 months in jail. (Please see Former SA public servant Veronica Theriault jailed for lying on her CV to get job, ABC News, December 2019.)

In Victoria, a man working as a senior solicitor in the Office of Public Prosecutions was fired after it was found he wrote a false job history on his CV. He was barred from practising law for five years and ordered to pay $5,925 in costs.

Depending on the seriousness of the fibs told on a CV, lying could make you lose your job, destroy your career, or land you in court. It may be tempting to lie on your CV, but it really is best to be honest.

Nick Burton
Employment law
Stacks Collins Thompson

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.