MT EXPERT: Detecting the top mistakes on CVs and job applications

As more and more jobseekers include lies or false information in their employment applications, it's becoming ever more important to check the validity of candidates' claims. HireRight's Steve Girdler reveals where on their CV people are most likely to fib, forget or falsify.

Last Updated: 29 Nov 2013

Nearly two-thirds of people provide incorrect information when applying for a job, lying about anything from their degree grade to whether they have a criminal record. Over the last twelve months there has been a steady rise in the level of errors on job applications – up twelve per cent compared to the same period last year¹. So what should companies look out for when considering if a candidate is right for the role?

It’s elementary

Jobseekers are most likely to make false claims about their educational background and this is exaggerated or wrong on almost two in five (38 per cent) applications. Often grades and dates of attendance are incorrect but, in some cases, candidates haven’t even studied at the university or college where they claim to have been educated.

Almost a third (31 per cent) of job applicants make false claims about their professional qualifications and memberships. Have you checked that your accountant is still chartered? Or that your marketing manager is really CIM qualified and has renewed his or her membership?

Qualifications exist for a reason and companies that don’t check the validity of candidates’ claims risk hiring someone dishonest who is not able to carry out the role. Professional service firms could also face employing someone who goes on to provide bad advice that the company is then liable for.
Recently there have been a number of high profile cases where prominent people in well-respected organisations have misled their employers about their achievements, only to by rumbled and subsequently revealed in the media. Employers need to be aware that absolutely anyone could have embellished their levels of education or qualification.

Companies who fail to put the right checks in place risk recruiting people who are unable to fulfil their role or who severely harm their organisation’s reputation when the truth is exposed.

Doing time

Over a third (35 per cent) of people provide incorrect details about where they have worked previously – including the wrong job title or employment dates on their CV. These people may never have worked for the company they claim to have been employed by or are hiding what they were really doing during this time, fearing it might affect their chances of getting a job.

A case of mistaken identity

A tiny but increasing number of people are deliberately providing false ID documents to their employer. This is an area where we have seen a significant rise in errors over the last year.

Of course, these people could simply be desperate for employment during a difficult economic period, but there is always a risk that an individual who goes to the trouble of producing a fake passport is intent on harming the organisation through fraud or theft. This is especially true at a time when 72 per cent of companies claim they have been affected by insider fraud in the last year (2013/14 Kroll Global Fraud Report).

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

Hiring staff is like buying a house: stressful, costly, complex and full of risk. In the same way that you wouldn’t move into a home without having undertaken a thorough survey, companies should carry out all the checks necessary to make sure that they are making a safe investment in new staff members.

Businesses are in the habit of protecting themselves against everyday issues such as cyber security, fire and health and safety and will carry out in-depth research on suppliers. However, they often fail to carry out the same level of due diligence during the recruitment process. In doing so, companies risk hiring unqualified or dishonest employees who pose a significant threat to the finances, reputation and future performance of their entire company.

Steve Girdler is managing director for EMEA at HireRight, the leading global candidate due diligence company

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