For seven years now I have been lying to those closest to me. I tell my children every day that you must always tell the truth yet as I sit at the dinner table with them I am engaged in an elaborate cover up. The time has come to own up to them; I DON'T LIKE BROCCOLI.
There, I've said it. I would have been found out anyway, the things we hide have a habit of making it into the light. Take Lee McQueen, the 2008 winner of The Apprentice; Lee was on the winning team on all but three occasions, he was a likeable team player with a solid history of professional success. Why then did Lee choose to embellish his CV around how long he spent at university? A lie that very nearly cost him the coveted Apprentice title when it was uncovered.
Lee isn't the first person to add a little here and there to their CV and nor will he be the last person to get caught, that much is certain. Employers are checking the backgrounds of prospective candidates more and more; can you prove your exam results? References for all previous employment are sought out. Your credit history is checked. If what they find is not what you have told them you aren't likely to be as lucky as Lee McQueen who still got the job.
A lack of integrity says more about you than any qualifications or work history. Even a slight bending of the truth is enough to question your integrity, as Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson recently found to his detriment. Thompson has been forced to stand down just four months after he took up his post, amid allegations that he gained a Computer Science degree from a university that didn't offer that degree at the time he claimed to have been there.
If you haven't got the qualifications needed for the job you want, you should tell the truth and play up your other good points - plenty of valid experience, perhaps, or a tangible success rate in your chosen field. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised by the outcome. The same applies if you have a credit history you would rather hide. By raising this with a prospective employer you can provide the context around it, if you don't they will find it anyway and make their own judgement on what this means.
With the factual bits of your history dealt with that just leaves your 'footprint' to worry about. Those photos on Facebook of you at your friends 40th birthday, that tweet when you were a little too candid about your feelings towards the train company, the blog posting you wrote about your previous employer. In 2002 the term 'dooced' was coined to describe getting fired for writing about your work and your colleagues on your blog, named after the blog of web designer Heather B. Armstrong.
In this increasingly connected world it is easy to share our thoughts, frustrations and embarrassing moments far more widely than we intended to. While it is frowned upon for a prospective employer to check on your personal web presence it is hard to imagine it doesn't take place. Make sure your footprint doesn't tell a different story to the one you want your employer to hear - ensure your privacy settings are configured to keep your private life exactly that.
The job market is incredibly fierce right now, as a candidate you have to be as good as all the others and that little bit better too. Don't be afraid to shout about your achievements and the things you are great at, just make sure the things you say are always true. And if you intend to be a contestant on The Apprentice please do me a favour and don't describe yourself as 'The Reflection of Perfection' or similar as you'll likely be caught out on that front too.