Languages We Pretend We Can Speak
While lying on a CV is hardly new, lying about languages has reached heights previously unknown. The first question about linguistic experience is an easy one: Which languages do you speak? The applicant writing a brief summary of their experience realizes that merely stating their mother tongue is likely to underimpress any reviewer, and so they lie. With frequent job changing a demoralizing factor in today’s economy, an applicant may feel desperate to ensure their readiness to travel for the job or even to be transferred to another country. For instance, in the UK an applicant for a US position may feel pressured to present themselves as a fluent speaker of Spanish, while in reality they speak the half-remembered words for ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, and ‘please.’
Because the internet is international, job applications may be graded by an HR person who spends less than sixty seconds on each CV. In that light, lying doesn’t sound like such a risk, because CV checking may take up too much time to be profitable. Therefore, the applicant lies with the hope of not being caught. One such evasive method would be to say that fluent Albanian is your second language, the odds being great that no one could verify this. Another aspect of lying on CVs is to be hyper-truthful in the hopes that such disingenuousness leads the HR person to believe the rest of the CV. For instance, stating that you are conversational in Chinese but do not write it would be a convincing lie. Transliteration is an added complication in the world of competitive language talent misdirection. All in all, the ability to speak another language in whatever degree is integral to the image that we want to project, that we can understand different cultures. Any employer needs this breadth of mind in their pool of professionals.