How far would your candidates go to secure that perfect job? While you might expect the occasional white lie about experience or small exaggeration of technical skills, some are willing to take dishonesty to the next level with outright lies and fake references.
Adzuna.co.uk conducted a survey of 3,587 participants either in, or looking for, employment. When asked if they had lied on their CV, a whopping 37%, or just over a third, admitted to doing so at some stage in their professional career. Of those that had lied on their CV, 83% said they still got the job, with 43% stating that their lie directly contributed to them bagging the role.
However, 48% of lazy HR professionals admitted to not always checking an employee’s qualifications, with a third (35%) stating they believe that the responsibility for uncovering CV lies sits with recruitment agencies.
Upon closer inspection, candidates were most likely to lie about their skillset, e.g. being proficient in Excel (43%), their work experience (39%) and their education (35%).
It seems recruiters and hiring managers were poor at spotting the lies, as 83% of candidates who told an untruth were never discovered. Almost all (96%) of CV liars said they would do it again - with 37% revealing they would be prepared to tell a 'big lie' to get their dream job.
“I was a fake reference for a friend” one participant told the researchers. “The company rang me up and I pretended I was her manager, told them what a great worker she was, what responsibilities she had. She got the job and they were none the wiser!”
Protecting yourself against such lies does not have to be difficult. A short test of essential skills can weed out those who are exaggerating and calling a qualification board can confirm that certification has actually been achieved.
To combat fake references, always search for the company in question online before calling. You could search for the referee on LinkedIn to ensure they are who they say they are or call the company directly to speak to the HR department.
Ruth Sparkes, Director at Education Marketing company EMPRA, said she once interviewed a candidate who tried to pull the wool over her eyes. “My colleague and I were interviewing for a new PR account manager and this candidate was really pushing home her fabulous contacts with ITV,” she said. “I asked her for examples of work she’d done, stories she’d placed, [and] she listed three. All three were our actual clients and I had personally placed those stories.
“I got up from my chair and opened the office door for her, I asked her to ensure the front door was closed behind her.”