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Lawyers lie on CVs, water still wet

Posted by: Laurence Simons 11/07/12

CV lies are 'okay', says someone who quite obviously lied on their CV.

So your CV looks impressive, your CV looks good. "Did you really spend a year in a deprived African nation, forging mud huts with your hands out of clay, nurturing babies with sweet milk expressed from your own young body?" ask recruiters. "Well it says so on my CV," you say. "Who would lie on a CV?" Monsters, is who. People who are monsters.

Or, as Allen & Overy solicitor Sheila Fahy would have it, 'basically everyone'. Writing for the Financial Times this week, Fahy seemed to unwittingly encourage assembling a résumé 'Pinocchio-style'.

"So imagine a teacher listing 'jogging' as an interest, whereas in reality she wouldn't be seen dead in anything less than three-inch heels," says Fahy, who inhabits a fantasy world where teachers aren't dead-eyed and formerly eager, and still give a single damn about heels. "This would hardly justify dismissing the person should the truth be known - it is what you call a 'white lie', with no real harm done. If the same candidate were applying for a sports teacher's post, the decision would be less straightforward."

Yes, but this is law, Fahy. You know, that thing you practise every single day. Get on point, please.

"If, as you say, you are competent and well regarded," - says Fahy, again neglecting to mention 'and crucially, a law graduate' - "and the CV lies have no direct impact or relevance to your current job, you might decide to cross your fingers and keep quiet." Hear that? It's the sound of the Allen & Overy HR department pulling an all-nighter, sat with a can of Red Bull and a magnifying glass and Fahy's CV, scrutinising every claim from being a keen amateur chef to a puppy-lover.

But imagine for a moment that you are not Sheila Fahy, if you can. So your CV has had a little massaging: is this a problem? In the world of law, Fahy thinks not: in the world of 'being the CEO of Yahoo!', as Scott Thompson proved earlier this year, maybe a little bit. Worried about the fantasy elements of your own CV? Maybe have a word with a legal recruiter.