Contractors' Questions: Is talking up my CV akin to lying?

Contractor's Question : All this talk recently of recruiters and clients scrutinising IT contractor CVs for the truth has got me worried about one CV I have in circulation. For the role that CV has been submitted for, the agent was quite insistent that I make clear on the CV that I'm solid in programming language 'x' when actually, in reality, I'm just familiar with it. The language isn't the primary skill the role calls for, but the slight embellishment on my part is concerning me. But then again, we all talk up our CVs, don't we?

Expert's Answer : There is a delicate and fine line between lying and 'being economical with the truth.' For me, the central focus should be on intent.

No-one sets out to lie or to embellish for no reason. It seems to come up when a contractor perceives that a client will not consider their CV because it doesn't contain certain key elements of the job spec.

Now the contractor, tends to think, "Once I get in there, I'll pick it up - no problem." They really believe that and often with good cause – you may be a case in point.

The client, on the other hand, is often using strict criteria to filter CVs. In so doing, they may well be missing some great candidates, just because they don't have this or that version of software or experience in that industry. Clients can be short-sighted
in that respect.

To an extent, I think clients have brought this on themselves by being so picky. But to get back to your circumstances, one approach might be to tell the agent that you have decided not to go for that contract and withdraw the CV.

No-one can ever condone lying on a CV - it is illegal after all - but showing yourself in the best light is something we should all be trying to do; this can be done without lying.

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