Should I Tell The Truth On My CV?

Claire Vane
October 19, 2016

I was recently asked for advice from a coachee who has some hobbies and interests that are somewhat extreme.

In coaching people through a transition, the great range of sporting and social interests are enormous and it is a very fine line we tread in writing our extra curricular paragraph. It is an interesting point to wonder why we don’t tell the whole truth and to investigate it a little further.

The whole truth?

I think it is always very important to write the absolute truth in your interests and private enterprises as these topics could come up in in the interview. If you are not telling the truth about being, for example, a grower of bonsai trees (and yes, some people do have this as a hobby), you may well be caught out by having to speak about your apparently main interest, which you haven’t touched for a decade. I absolutely advocate, therefore, telling the truth.

What the CV and covering letter are for the candidate, the job specification and advert are for the employer. These two documents - CV and cover letter - are your main sales documents. They are going to attract, deter and inform, just as the job specification should attract, deter and inform about the job.

The trick is to find a job with an excellent match of competencies (skills, knowledge and attributes) both technical and non-technical and then match your competencies to the role by articulating them honestly in the CV and covering letter. It does not mean that you should point out your development areas and shout about your ‘warts and all’.

Your interests can give employers a feel for your suitability

I like to feel, when I’m reading a CV, that I know the person just a little better than before I read the documentation. If I do not know the candidate any better in terms of values, having read the CV, but feel that the technical competencies are well-defined and the candidate, therefore, worthy of interview, then I would certainly be focusing during interview to find out a little bit more about an individual’s value system, which in turn drives their beliefs, thoughts and feelings and therefore, the individual’s behaviour.

Tell the truth... but exercise healthy restraint

Coachees often also ask about how honest to be about daily personal habits – drinking, sleeping and carousing until dawn! I think I would exercise a little restraint in this particular area as we all know that our strengths can also be our tragic flaws – determination can also be translated as stubbornness, tenacity as an inability to let go and so on. Even perfectionism can lead to paralysis.

It is also worth considering whether you have some interest that is very polarising. If your interest falls into one of the protective characteristics in the Equality Act, then is it relevant to the role for which you are applying and would it be better to leave it out?

Conclusions

Our job in writing a CV and covering letter is to provide evidence of as good a competency match as possible with the role we are applying for - both for technical or non-technical competencies – and, at the same time, to convey a little of our personality. Hopefully, it is our strengths that we demonstrate most of the time at work and we do not expect perfection at all times, nor is there any point in providing information that is irrelevant.

So, I’d go for telling the truth and nothing but the truth, but I’d dispense with the whole truth where it has a negative connotation unnecessarily. I would suggest that we keep ‘carousing until dawn’ out of the workplace and out of the prospective workplace.

If you are in transition and want some support or a little morale boosting during the recruitment process, do please get in touch with the team at Integrated Resources who are experts at coaching individuals through transition.

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Claire Vane

Claire is the Managing Director and Founder of Integrated Resources. She is passionate about releasing potential in individuals and organisations.

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