Lies, damned lies, unfortunate errors, desperate job-seekers and CVs…

Unfortunate errors, desperate jobseekers and CVs…

Emma SherlockNews

A bit unfair that headline perhaps, but there is a considerable body of evidence that ‘errors’ in job applications are getting more frequent.  In reality, a lot of these are genuine errors, although these, of course, then shed doubt on the ability of the candidate to proof their own CV properly and should certainly lead to questions about his/her attention to detail, assuming that you’re still prepared to interview them!


A recent report by HireRight, a leading provider of employment background checks, has highlighted this problem once again. This is an important issue.  We all can recall unfortunate ‘successful’ hires who turned out to be less than they appeared, even at C-Suite level where you’d expect the degree of due diligence to be rigorous in the extreme.  At any level of recruitment it matters though, because if the chap who cleans the drains makes a mess of things then it doesn’t make for a happy atmosphere in the office/works.


What the HireRight research says is that the number of errors in job applications has risen to the highest level in four years, and in the last year has increased from 56% in 2014 to 63% in 2015 to date.  This, not surprisingly, has been picked up by the mainstream press. The Daily Telegraph reported it factually, suggesting that the election and a “competitive employment market” may have in some way influenced these figures.


In case you think it’s just the right-wing press who are concerned about such matters, Welfare Weekly reacted slightly differently to the HireRight research, running an article under the headline “Desperate Jobseekers Resort To Lying On Application Forms”, before going on to say, “Desperate jobseekers, looking for work in a highly competitive jobs market, are increasingly resorting to lies and exaggerations on application forms”.  I suppose it does depend on where you start from, but I’d have thought that implying that it’s somehow the fault of the market that people are lying on their application forms rather misses the point, namely that if you do lie and get found out you’re going to make your employment prospects worse rather than better.


HireRight suggest that over one third (36%) actually do lie about their previous employment. That’s some statement and it ought to scare the pants off recruiters whose job it is to separate the sheep from the goats on a daily basis. In addition to porkies about previous jobs, some 30% made false statements (i.e. lied) about professional qualifications and some others gave “inaccurate information” about previous director-level roles.  Is this because the market is tight?  Given the number of jobs being created, and the shortage of talent in some key areas, you’d think that being economical with the truth was not necessary if you really want a job?  Perhaps it is something more fundamental about society, or education, or is that getting too deep?  Anyway, as a wiser person than me once said, “If you don’t lie you don’t have to remember what you said/wrote!” – so don’t do it if you want to keep the job once you’ve got it. And in case you think that an “unfortunate misunderstanding” can be swept under the carpet, it’s worth noting that in 2013, CIFAS, the UK fraud prevention service, prosecuted 324 people submitting fraudulent job applications.  It is a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.  Now that would not be a good career move…


Emma Sherlock, Nine Twenty Recruitment



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