How honest should you be on your CV?

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Neville Rose, director at CV Writers answers our reader's career dilemma on what information should or should not be included on your CV

Question: "Should I include salary expectations and ‘reasons for leaving’ on my CV? As a climate change professional I’ve always included these in my applications as I believe in being 100% honest and upfront but a recruitment consultant recently advised me to delete these from my CV. Can you please advise whether it is better to include these details?"

Neville Rose says...

It is very common in application forms – particularly in the public sector – to include information on salary and reasons for leaving. However, in the private sector where application is primarily by CV and cover letter, this information is not usually asked for. So if it is not required then don’t provide it.

There are several good reasons why you should not include either your salary expectations or information on your current or most recent salary. Perhaps the strongest reason for not including this information is that revealing your salary expectations significantly reduces your ability to negotiate your package.

Applying for a job is a little like a game of poker: You only want to reveal your cards slowly and tactfully as this increases your power and control over the situation. The same goes for your job application. The time to discuss salary expectations and packages is usually at the end of the 2nd interview when the employer has really bought into you and you know they really want you. At this stage you are in a powerful bargaining position to get the package you really want. If you have provided this information much further back – you have significantly curtailed your ability to negotiate for what you believe you are worth.

I always find it odd and naïve that some application forms ask for ‘reasons for leaving’. The employer is almost always going to get an answer that is nowhere near the truth. People often change jobs for a myriad of complex reasons they may not even fully understand themselves. There may also be significant differences between what a previous employer thinks and the employee. There could also be legal constraints to both parties revealing the truth. So you end up with banal answers like left for “new challenges”, “pay rise” or “more responsibility”. They almost never say “because I did not get on well with my manager”. Surely it is better to say nothing at all.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Haymarket Media Group.

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