'Bigging up' the CV

Competition for jobs can sometimes be fierce, but resist the temptation to 'big-up' a CV with lies or half-truths.

Competition for jobs can sometimes be fierce for both doctors and dentists and only promises to be more so in the coming era of belt-tightening in health services. But it is important to resist the temptation to “big-up” a CV with lies or half-truths in order to enhance your chances.

A trawl through the records of GMC fitness to practise hearings offers some sobering examples. A doctor applying for a job is found to have lied about having attained an MRCP Diploma, among other falsehoods, and is erased form the medical register. Another doctor applying for a job as an SHO in obstetrics and gynaecology claims to have 18 months experience in that specialty but this is found to be untrue and he is also erased from the register. An surgeon applying for a job falsely claims to have “broad experience” in a particular operative technique but is later found out during a failed procedure – leading to his suspension.

These are all examples of serious fraud but even minor exaggerations can sometimes lead to investigation and possible sanctions. Both the GMC and GDC are clear on the standards expected of registrants in regard to honesty. In Good Medical Practice the GMC states:

"You must always be honest about your experience, qualifications and position, particularly when applying for posts.

"You must do your best to make sure that any documents you write or sign are not false or misleading. This means that you must take reasonable steps to verify the information in the documents, and that you must not deliberately leave out relevant information."

It is clear that misrepresenting qualifications or relevant details on a CV also extends to matters of omission. This is further expanded in the GMC’s Indicative Sanctions Guidance for the Fitness to Practise Panel:

"Dishonesty, even where it does not result in direct harm to patients but is for example related to matters outside the doctor’s clinical responsibility, e.g. providing false statements or fraudulent claims for monies, is particularly serious because it can undermine the trust the public place in the profession…"

"Examples of dishonesty in professional practice could include defrauding an employer, falsifying or improperly amending patient records or submitting or providing false references, inaccurate or misleading information on a CV and failing to take reasonable steps to ensure that statements made in formal documents are accurate."

Similar guidance can be found in the GDC’s Standards for the dental team which states:

"Justify the trust that your patients, the public and your colleagues have in you by always acting honestly and fairly. Apply these principles to clinical and professional relationships, and any business or educational activities you are involved in. Maintain appropriate standards of personal behaviour in all walks of life so that patients have confidence in you and the public have confidence in the dental profession."

MDDUS has numerous cases on its records of members being subject to GMC, GDC or local disciplinary proceedings in regard to falsely claiming qualifications and experience in CVs or interviews. Such indiscretions may seem minor but could lead to sanctions ranging from warnings to erasure.

ACTION Avoid the temptation to stretch the truth in CVs, job applications and interviews. Be certain the information provided in these contexts can be independently verified.