Is avoiding plagiarism important in a CV?

One of our candidates recently asked us if plagiarism was an issue when it came to writing their CV and we thought it was such a great question, we’d write a little blog about it.

Firstly, people DO plagiarise in their CVs. Secondly, companies (especially large companies who receive a substantial number of applications for every post) DO use plagiarism detection software.

So the short answer is a no-brainer – you shouldn’t plagiarise in your CV.

If a company detects that your CV has been copied from elsewhere, they may jump to a number of conclusions. For example:

  • What you’ve said in your CV is not true. If it’s word-for-word the same as someone else’s CV, this really calls into question whether or not you really have the experience you claim.
  • You don’t have the ability to write your own CV from scratch. If you did, you would have done so. This calls into question your written communication skills.
  • You’re lazy. You’ve taken someone else’s work because you simply can’t be bothered to write your own.
  • You don’t care about the job. After all, it’s common sense that a large company might use a plagiarism checker (I know plenty of small companies who use them too). If you cared about the job, you wouldn’t chance missing out on an interview because your plagiarism was discovered.

None of the above may be true – but these are the conclusions that an employer may reach if faced with a plagiarised CV.

“Checking applicants through a plagiarism detecting software can show those applicants who are truly worthy applicants and those who are presenting skills they do not have. If the company values the importance of hiring the right person for the job, it would make sense to utilize the plagiarism check on the candidates who make it to the final round of decisions and interviews.” ~ Kaley Buck, Five Strengths

It’s quite easy to plagiarise by accident – for example you might copy and paste a few lines from each of your employer’s company descriptions. However this again does suggest laziness. If you’re worried about whether you’ve made these original enough, you could use a plagiarism checker such as https://www.plagiarismchecker.net (this also has some links to other checkers if you want something a bit more comprehensive).

The above discussion really focuses on cut-and-paste plagiarism – but other types of plagiarism exist. For example, some people will pay a professional CV writer to put together their CV for them. This plagiarism is more akin to paying someone else to write your essays for you at school. You’re not copying someone else’s work per se – you’re just passing it off as your own.

I would argue that the latter is also a form of plagiarism and dishonesty. The employer wants to see what you have to say about yourself, and doesn’t want it dressed up by a professional CV writer.

However, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using an editing/proofreading service for your CV. Lousy mistakes can cost you the interview so having a second pair of eyes check over your CV is worthwhile.

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