Last year, a former senior NHS manager was convicted of lying about his qualifications on his CV in order to secure a senior IT role.
Peter Knight committed the fraud when applying for the £130,000-a-year role of Chief Information and Digital Officer at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust by falsely claiming he had a Classics degree. Recruiters failed to pick up on his lie during the recruitment process, which only came to light later following an anonymous tip-off.
He resigned, but by that point had been in post for two years. The situation landed him with a suspended two-year jail sentence and an order to carry out 200 hours of unpaid community service, while at the same time causing significant embarrassment for the Trust.
The widespread nature of CV fraud
But Knight is scarcely the only one. According to this year’s UK Higher Education Degree Datacheck survey on graduate data fraud, for example, about a third of job seekers falsify important information on their CVs each year. Two in five exaggerate their academic qualifications, while 11% incorrectly claim to have a degree.
The findings of research conducted by reference checking service Checkster last year painted an even bleaker picture. The study indicated that 78% of candidates who had applied for, or received, a job offer in the previous six months had either considered misrepresenting, or did misrepresent, themselves on their application form.
Examples of such misrepresentation included claiming to:
- Have mastery of skills, such as speaking a foreign language or using Excel, that they rarely use (60%);
- Work at a given company for longer than was the case to avoid mentioning another employer (50%);
- Hold a director’s title when they were actually a manager or equivalent (41%).
An ever-increasing threat
But the concern is that as the jobs market continues to expand, with job vacancies now higher than at pre-pandemic levels, CV fraud will become an ever-increasing threat – and that threat is a real one.
Appointing staff members that do not have the necessary skills and/or qualifications to do the job can pose potential risks to colleagues, customers and the business. These risks include failing to meet business objectives, other employees having to pick up the burden if they are not up to the task, and additional recruitment costs once the fraud has been spotted.
But such problems do not stop there. Hiring someone who could end up perpetrating further fraud or engage in other forms of ‘insider threat’ behaviour has the potential to lead to costly investigations and legal action as well as serious reputational damage for the company.
As for those industries that are most at risk from such activities, a survey by CV Check reveals that just under 73% of job applicants in financial services have padded their resumes. The same is true of 71% in leisure and hospitality, 63% in IT and healthcare, and 59% in retail.
How to eradicate CV fraud
So what can employers do to root out CV fraud and ensure dishonest candidates do not slip through the net?
First of all, it is worth considering introducing a number of small, easy-to-implement processes that can make a significant difference. Activities here include training recruiters to spot tell-tale signs, such as inconsistencies between a job-seeker’s CV and their LinkedIn profile. Formal assessment to test an individual’s aptitude and skills rather than rely simply on information from their resume is another good option.
But the most failsafe way to eradicate problems is to have a sound background checking procedure in place. At the very minimum, it should verify candidates’:
- Educational status and qualifications;
- Membership of professional bodies;
- Past employment record, including specific circumstances, such as directorship searches and conformance with Senior Managers and Certification Regime regulations in the case of those working in financial services.
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