Is it right to prosecute someone for lying on their CV? Yes, argues Helena Frith Powell
Prosecuting someone for lying on their CV is fair enough. After all it is fraud. And taken to its most extreme level, lying about your qualifications could be downright dangerous. Imagine saying you could fly a plane when you can’t.
Why do people assume that because it is not, for example, stealing or harming anyone that lying on a CV is not wrong?
I cannot understand why people who are otherwise morally sound think that it can be justified. They argue that ‘well I should have got an A in maths’ or ‘I was in the job for a year in spirit’.
I used to work as a headhunter in the media business. Most of the roles we hunted for were very senior. I even headhunted Piers Morgan for one, he was still at The Mirror at the time, and told me he was “perfectly happy”.
I remember one candidate we offered a job to was found to have a ‘discrepancy’ on his CV. The package he was about to land was worth almost half a million pounds plus share options. The job went to someone else and we never dealt with the candidate again. I think he’s still in the job he was about to leave before we checked up on his CV. Admittedly it was quite a big lie; he said he had a masters degree when he didn’t. Stupid and unnecessary and it cost him his career.
The reason headhunters are so harsh on this, and the reason it should be taken extremely seriously, is that lying on you CV is indicative of the barriers you are prepared to break to get what you want. It is a reflection of your character, or lack of it. In recruitment, as in life, you need to be able to trust people and that trust is betrayed by any lie, however seemingly insignificant it is. A CV is your personal assertion as to what you have achieved and who you are. To lie on it is criminal, as well as extremely poor form.
Helena Frith Powell was born in Sweden to a Swedish mother and Italian father, but grew up mainly in England. She is the author of eleven books, translated into several languages including Chinese and Russian. She wrote the French Mistress column The Sunday Times about life in France for several years. She is a regular contributor to the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Tatler Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar.
Helena has been the editor of four magazines, including M Magazine, a supplement for the Abu Dhabi-based National Newspaper and FIVE, a high-end fashion glossy, also published in Abu Dhabi. Helena was also editor-in-chief of 360 Life, a quarterly glossy magazine published with the Sports 360 Newspaper in Dubai, part of the Chalhoub Group.
Helena contributes regularly to UK-based newspapers and magazines and holds a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Cambridge. She is working on a thriller set in Sweden as well as a novel about the relationship between Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield called Sense of an Echo.
In 2022 her short story The Japanese Gardener came second in the Fish Publishing Short Story Prize. One of her stories was also shortlisted for the Bridport Short Story Prize. When she’s not writing, she works as a headhunter for the media and entertainment industry for the Sucherman Group.
Helena, who was educated at Durham University, lives in the Languedoc region of France with her husband Rupert and their three children.
More France Please, we’re British; Gibson Square 2004
Two Lipsticks and a Lover 2005; Gibson Square (hardback)
All You Need to be Impossibly French; (US version of above) Penguin 2006
Two Lipsticks and a Lover; Arrow Books (paperback) 2007
Ciao Bella Gibson Square; (hardback) 2006
Ciao Bella Gibson Square; (paperback) 2007
So Chic! (French version of Two Lipsticks) Leduc Editions 2008 (also translated into Chinese, Russian and Thai)
More, More France; Gibson Square 2009
To Hell in High Heels; Arrow Books 2009 (also translated into Polish)
The Viva Mayr Diet; Harper Collins 2009
Love in a Warm Climate; Gibson Square 2011
The Ex-Factor; Gibson Square 2013
Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles; Gibson Square 2016
The Arnolfini Marriage; Amazon Kindle December 2016
Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles (paperback); Gibson Square spring 2018
The Longest Night; Gibson Square spring 2019