CV fraud basics for small business owners
‘Everyone lies on their resume’ might seem like a joke to job hunters but it’s a harsh reality for employers.
Google ‘CV fraud’ and you’ll discover that it’s more common than you think: estimates range up to an almost unbelievable 65%. The more realistic 33% – from the UK Higher Education Degree Datacheck – is where we would hedge our bets.
What is CV fraud?
Resume fraud is where an applicant falsifies something on their CV. Whether it’s a fake degree, inflated grade or fictional employment history, it can have disastrous consequences for your company.
A candidate that lies on their CV is more likely to engage in the same kind of fraudulent acts while working for you. They might also be completely unqualified and incapable of doing the job.
Around 48% of small and medium-sized businesses have had a candidate lie about their degree on their resume, so it’s likely that you have come across a phoney without even knowing it yet.
Even giants like Yahoo have fallen victim to resume lies when hiring a chief executive in 2012. Scott Thompson’s computer science degree held out for almost six months until suspicions arose.
So when 33% of the applications you receive are fraudulent, what can you do to protect yourself?
Why do people lie on their CVs?
When the punishment for CV fraud can be a 10-year prison sentence, why do people risk it?
We all know that hunting for a job can be hard. Some of us realise this and do some training, volunteering and networking. Others open their CV and become creative writers, making fiction from fact.
People that falsify their degree do it in response to role requirements, which often highlight a degree as a must-have. In some cases, the experience you can gain in a degree is unnecessary and they’re never caught. But in others, interviewers can quickly discover that something isn’t right.
Other people do the same with their skills: they boast that they know Microsoft Excel but can’t make a pivot table without Google’s help (why is it so hard?).
The more dangerous fraudsters falsify their entire work history, claim to be an industry expert and secure senior roles in growing companies.
Who knows whether they’re prompted to do it because they’re lazy, careless or cruel? Either way, they inevitably don’t perform well and are caught out, often after the damage is already done.
How to spot CV fraud
Studies have found that recruiters and hiring managers only spend a few seconds looking at every CV they receive, and while they look at the right information like employment titles and dates, they don’t verify them.
Anyone can type something impressive and call it employment history, so you need to be careful before you send your job offer letter. Collecting references is a great way to verify basic information, but again, people can fake these too if you’re not careful!
Candidates can easily send you a friend’s email address instead of their old manager’s, so your checks need to be more comprehensive than that.
Over 85 phoney university websites – where people can buy false degree certificates – have been taken down in the last 5 years but the work is far from over. Over 300 institutions have been investigated since the government began cracking down on CV fraud in 2015.
You can use the Higher Education Degree Datacheck to determine degree classifications and whether the university your candidate claims they went to is real or fake.
You can also use LinkedIn and some outreach to verify employment history without paying the high costs of hiring an agency to check for you.
Sensitive work? Consider vetting
If the role you’re hiring for requires a high degree of trust, consider using a vetting service.
It’s particularly common to vet your candidates if the role they applied for would have them deal with large amounts of money, customer data or potentially vulnerable clients.
Every profession and industry is different but vetting usually includes identity checks, address verification, work and education history verification, criminal record checks, character references and credit checks. Like me, you’re probably not a fraud expert, so I’d recommend heading on over to the British Standard for Screening (BS 7858) to carry out the checks for you.