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‘Job shaming’ rife as 10 million Brits admit to lying about their job

A new survey from education charity Teach First reveals over 6 million workers (19%) in the UK aren't proud of their jobs, and 10 million workers (33%) have lied or been tempted to lie about what they do for work.  

  • A third of workers (33%) in the UK tempted to lie about their job  
  • HR and IT professionals most likely to stretch the truth about their day jobs 
  • Teach First launches hunt for professionals longing to feel proud of their career 

HR and IT professionals top the list of workers most likely to lie or stretch the truth about their day jobs (66% HR; 62% IT and Telecomms), according to the survey of 2034 adults from across the UK.  

The survey by Teach First comes as part of its latest recruitment campaign to attract bright but bored young professionals away from their desk jobs, and into a challenging and fulfilling teaching career. 

“What do you do for work?” 

It’s a question that comes up in almost every social encounter requiring small talk with strangers - from Christmas parties, to school reunions. 

While many of us are happy to fib, others ‘blag it’. A third of UK workers (34%) say they try to avoid the question by “moving the conversation on quickly” or “putting a creative spin on their answer” to make their job sound more appealing or interesting than it actually is. 

Job ashamed vs job proud  

According to the research, those who stretch the truth about what they do for a living are more likely to describe their jobs as “high salary” but “morally dubious”. Job-proud workers tend to describe their role as “challenging”, “creative”, “rewarding” and “socially conscious”.  

Teachers top the list of proud professionals working in the UK. Almost all teachers surveyed (95%) said they are proud to talk about what they do for work.   

Generation purpose 

Whilst Baby Boomers are inclined to lie if their role isn’t associated with “skills or intelligence”, Millennials are far more likely to lie to a stranger, if their work isn’t “purpose driven” or “doesn’t reflect their personal values”.  

‘Danger-zone’ social situations  

Teach First have released a pocket-sized guide to help Brits who aren’t particularly proud of their jobs answer the question “what do you do?” with creative flair. 

The top 5 ‘danger-zone’ scenarios where we are most tempted to lie about our jobs:  
  1. At the pub   
  2. At a Christmas party  
  3. At a school reunion  
  4. Catching up with extended family  
  5. On a first date  
Russell Hobby, Teach First’s Chief Executive said: 

“A third of our waking hours are spent at work. If you’re one of the 6 million workers across the country who isn’t proud to answer the question “what do you do?”, you may want to start looking for a job that you find more satisfying.  

With Teach First, professionals can use their skills and experience to make a real difference in the lives of children who are currently being left behind by our education system. 

In 2019, consider a career switch to a challenging profession that gives you purpose, and that you’re proud to talk about – teaching.” 

Teach First is recruiting participants to teach in schools across England and Wales. They recruit on a rolling basis and subjects and locations will close as they fill.

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