How to sell yourself for a job (without over-exaggerating)

By Robert Half on 21st November 2017

You might want that dream job badly, but over exaggerating the skills on your CV could see you removed from the shortlist faster than you can say ‘background check’.

Job seekers currently have the luxury of a candidate-driven hiring market. A nation-wide skills shortage means that highly qualified professionals are getting multiple job offers and are taking their pick of the best roles. This may make it very tempting to oversell your skill set on a CV in the hope of securing that dream job. Unfortunately, this often does more harm than good.

Our research has revealed the true impact of over-exaggerating and overselling on a candidate CV and which areas are most commonly faked. With that in mind, here’s our advice on how to sell your skills to a potential employer, without resorting to overinflated claims.

The dangers of overselling yourself

Overselling in your CV is one of the biggest CV mistakes you can make. Along with basic pitfalls, like poor spelling, too much irrelevant information and missing details, over-inflated claims regarding your skills can see you removed from the running after just the first interview.

Our research has shown that 62% of hiring managers in the UK have removed a candidate from consideration for a position based on the inclusion of dishonest or exaggerated information on a CV.

The most common areas for exaggerated claims are work experience, educational achievements, qualifications, technical skills, duties performed in a previous role and the level of responsibility given.

A recent graduate data fraud survey by the UK Higher Education Degree Datacheck has revealed that a third of candidates are not 100% truthful when writing their CVs. This isn’t a smart move when you consider that over three quarters of recruiters can easily spot false information, according to research by CareerBuilder.

All things considered, exaggerating your skills isn’t worth the trouble when you can learn how to sell yourself properly.

How to sell your skill set

You can beat the background checks and sell yourself properly (and truthfully) by following these simple steps on how to write a successful CV.

  • Match your skills to those that are most in-demand

You can really boost how attractive your CV is to a potential employer by including some of the most sought-after skills within your sector. Access the Salary Guide to find the most in-demand skills for your industry and try to match your existing skills to them. If you find that your skills fall short, it might be time to invest in a training course.

  • Team your CV with a strong personal statement

A strong CV is best used alongside a great personal statement. Be sure to keep it concise and tailored to the role you’re applying for—tie it in with the skills you’ve picked out in your CV so that both the CV and personal statement are consistent with one another. 

  • Include skills outside of work

Writing a good CV is about more than just your hard skills and qualifications. Many businesses are keen to find a candidate who is a good cultural fit, so will be looking for an indication of personality. Try including some personal interests and achievements at the bottom of your CV to round it off.

Access the Salary Guide today to see what businesses and recruiters in your industry are looking for. When you’ve finished, why not submit your CV to the Robert Half team and let us help you secure your dream job?

Search and apply for your next job


More From the Blog...