We all know how to spot obvious CV mistakes such as spelling errors and big gaps in work history that will raise a red flag when it comes to considering candidates. But what about wholly passable information that may not be what it seems?
We share more information about ourselves online than ever before, which theoretically means any lies or mistakes should be relatively easy to uncover from a quick glance at LinkedIn. However a recent analysis of 3,000 CVs by The Risk Advisory Group found that despite this easy access to information about our lives, 63% of CVs contain discrepancies – a rise of 15% in the last decade. Some of these are small, accidental errors but others can be elaborate outright lies – such as the candidate that created a website for a fake school to fabricate his educational background.
Although not all lies or inaccuracies on CVs are that extreme or deliberate, even the slightest anomaly can skew an employer’s judgement and mean they might not be getting what or who they were expecting. Deliberate or accidental, CV lies are a serious problem for every business, with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) estimating that recruiting the wrong person can cost up to £12,000 for senior managers or directors. The ever growing global talent pool has intensified the competition for jobs, and the financial crisis has only added fuel to the fire. Rising tuition fees in the UK have also played a part, with more people now feeling compelled to fabricate qualifications in order to get ahead.
However there are steps that businesses can take to ensure that the people they employ are genuinely qualified to do the job. Here are some of the key ways that you can filter out candidates who are not all they appear to be based on their CV.
1. The devil is in the detail
One way to validate a candidate’s experience is to delve into the detail of their previous roles at the interview stage. Quiz them not only about what they were good at and what they liked about their previous job but also what some of the challenges were and where they think they could improve. In our latest CV analysis we spotted a growing trend for people to embellish their job titles. Check if people have the managerial skills they claim to have by asking them about their leadership style and some of the issues they faced.
2. Verify and verify again
It is surprising how few recruiters and employers check candidates’ ID at the beginning of the recruitment process – and then again on the first day of employment. This is really important, particularly when you are hiring in large groups. There have been instances where the person who attended the recruitment day and secured the job was not the person who showed on the first day.
3. Mitigate the risk from temporary workers and contractors
Contractors and temporary workers can pose a risk to your business if they aren’t verified in the same way as permanent staff. Protect your company by screening all of your employees to the same level – don’t assume that the temp agency you use has already done so or works to your standards. Run spot checks to ensure that the screening carried out by the temp agency is sufficiently thorough.
4. Don’t be fooled by fakes
Some candidates will stop at nothing to secure the job and that sometimes means creating certificates. A Chinese website was selling fake degree certificates from UK universities recently and one candidate used a friend’s degree certificate – and a touch of Photoshop – and passed it off as his own. This is a particular problem when hiring candidates from abroad as you may not have come across the university they have, or claim to have, graduated from. Never take certificates or references at face value – always validate the source.
5. Vive la différence
Recruiting from an increasingly global talent pool can present challenges when it comes to verifying a candidate’s background – either because the information isn’t readily available or because it involves communicating in languages that you may not possess. Be aware of what is legally permissible and ensure you have the applicant’s consent to overcome obstacles. Clearly having the language skills and cultural understanding to converse with referees and academic institutions in their mother tongue can facilitate the whole process – and if you don’t have these skills in-house ensure that the screening partner you work with does.
In today’s digital world where so many processes are automated, there can be no substitute for human insight and analysis to identify when something is not quite the truth. By being vigilant and validating the information contained on a candidate’s CV you can ensure that you make the right hire for your business.
By Michael Whittington
Head of Employee Screening