How to spot dodgy CVs

By Nina Hendy

May 20, 2015

A new recruit for your agency is a major expense, especially when so many are in competition for dwindling public service jobs. Which is why it’s paramount you do all the checks and balances you can to make sure that the CVs sitting on your desk aren’t full of lies.

A survey of more than 23,000 businesses by career matching site OneShift last year found that more than 56% had experienced staff lying on their CV. The seven most common things people lie about are dates of employment, job titles, skills and accomplishments, salary, education, responsibilities, and using family and friends for references.

Another recent survey by Talent2 found that more than two thirds of employers (67.2%) have come across job candidates who have lied on their CV, indicating that the act of lying on a resume is likely to be a much more widespread issue.

And while lying on your CV is not a criminal offence, government employers are definitely cracking down on the practice. In a UK case, an employee received a six month suspended prison sentence and was ordered to carry out 150 hours of community work for lying on her CV.

The public service is cracking down on liars, with a recent incident in which a public servant was convicted of fraud for lying on their CV.

According to newspaper reports, the Australian Tax Office told its employees last month that one of their co-workers had lost their job and been found guilty of fraud after lying to secure a job.

When confronted, the employee resigned and the matter was referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. The employee later pleaded guilty to charges of knowingly using a false document and dishonestly deceiving a public official and was convicted and fine $1000 on each count.

“Falsifying your work qualifications or work history is deceitful, and chances are you will be caught out eventually, especially if you’re hired for skills and attributes that you simply don’t have.”

It comes after a clause was added to the Public Service Code of Conduct in 2013 to increase bosses’ power to take action against public servants who had been proven to have lied in their job applications.

Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan wrote in a staff bulletin about the issue that: “Falsifying your work qualifications or work history is deceitful, and chances are you will be caught out eventually, especially if you’re hired for skills and attributes that you simply don’t have. Don’t let ambition blind you to the requirement that you act with honesty and integrity at all times.”

Tudor Marsden-Huggins, managing director of recruitment marketing specialists Employment Office, says it’s a common problem, especially for employers who either don’t have the time or the know-how to undergo a rigorous screening process.

“We’re regularly seeing a steady rise in the number of employers requesting rigorous pre-employment screening, vetting and background checks. Employers are definitely becoming more cautious about whom they hire, and with approximately a quarter of candidates putting false or misleading information in their applications, they have good reason to be wary.”

It can cost anything from several thousands to tens of thousands of dollars to hire a new employee. For senior executive positions, this can swell to over $50,000. An initial investment in pre-employment checks can save employers from wasting their money, in both the initial hire and to hire a new candidate where the person’s deceit is uncovered.

“What candidates have to realise is that sooner or later, false information provided at the application stage will be tested against your practical skills and knowledge. If an employer discovers you have lied to get the job, even months or years into the relationship, your employment can be terminated immediately,” Marsden-Huggins says.

Employees are at greater risk than ever before of being caught out in the online age, when key contacts are so easily accessible, he says.

Leanne Hagerty is the head of people management with management consultancy Be Business. She’s found several cases where a candidate is about to be offered the job but at the last minute they’re caught in a lie.

The problem is that if someone lies on their CV or during an interview to cover up a past failure or under-performance, it’s not unreasonable for the potential employer to suspect they may do the same thing while they’re employed at your company, she says.

“Usually one of their references let slip a piece of information that’s contrary to the story we’ve been told, or it comes out in the background, security or police checks we routinely conduct. At the senior level, it’s unusual for it to come out during the interview itself unless the candidate is particularly foolish.”

Sell yourself on your future focus and potential, she says.

“Don’t assume you won’t be found out if you lie. Maybe you’ll get lucky but today that’s pretty unlikely, and if it’s a job you really want, then it’s definitely not worth risking your chances with a lie that will probably be found out anyway.”

How to protect your agency from false job applications

  • Always make sure you verbally check more than one reference
  • Don’t take a CV on face value — speak through their work history and clarify dates and job titles during the interview process
  • Implement police checks and other security checks for each new employee
  • Call previous employers and clarify all details of their role, including salary bracket
  • Consider hiring a HR specialist during key recruitment periods

This article first appeared on SmartCompany, a sister-publication to The Mandarin.

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[…] How to identify dodgy CVs Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan wrote in a employees bulletin concerning the concern that: “Falsifying your work qualifications or work historical past is deceitful, and likelihood is you may be caught out ultimately, particularly when you're employed for expertise and …. More about on The Mandarin (registration) […]

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