New research from background screening company PeopleChecking, part of NorthgateArinso, has found that whilst nearly two thirds of respondents had encountered individuals that misrepresented themselves on their CV, and more than a third felt this had a large impact on their business, a massive 87% of businesses do not use a specialist supplier to vet applicants. Small businesses in particular pointed to undetected CV misrepresentation as an expensive problem due to the relatively high cost of sourcing suitable employees.
Educational qualifications were predominantly open to abuse with 78% of those who had experienced misrepresentation on CVs saying they had seen grade inflation at degree level (39% at A-level or equivalent and 39% at GCSE level). Prospective candidates seem equally comfortable in exaggerating the number of qualifications held. 55% of respondents who had experienced misrepresentation on CVs reported that candidates had claimed a degree, 45% extra ‘A’ levels or equivalent and 50% extra GCSE’s or equivalent. Whilst one in five respondents who had experienced misrepresentation on CVs stated they had experienced candidates claiming to have attended a more prestigious educational establishment than they actually did. One respondent quoted that “(one) candidate claimed an MBA and membership of two accountancy bodies – none of which he had”.
“Fraudulent qualifications are becoming increasingly difficult to detect. Previously checking directly with the educational establishment was pretty foolproof but we’ve recently witnessed the rise of internet based companies which, for a fee, offer fake qualifications and/or fake work histories. These companies come complete with sophisticated websites with manned contacts which provide false verification of qualifications and work history. Unless the verifier is used to dealing with large volumes of verification data and can spot the early warning signs, these websites are extremely difficult to detect,” says Mathew Armstrong, Head of Business Development at PeopleChecking.
False or misleading references were also an area for concern. Of those respondents who had experienced misrepresentation on CVs 68% reported this as an issue.
When asked what other areas on CVs were open to abuse, 40% said they had experienced misrepresentation around experience and competency whilst 28% reported experiencing false facts about previous roles (experience, length of employment, salary). One respondent reported interviewing a supposedly qualified surveyor “who took a whole day to erect a tripod”, whilst another related encountering “a man who had falsified a three-year apprenticeship – false college certificate with signature of an unknown Head”.
When asked “what was the biggest issue for their business in vetting incoming staff”, 35% stated referencing, citing particular problem areas as accuracy, reliability and validity of the information provided and the length of time taken to get references back. 16% experienced difficulty in checking that candidates had not oversold themselves on their CVs – companies providing references were often unwilling to give more than the basic information so it was problematical to check claimed skills, knowledge, technical ability and experience.
The survey further found there was a direct correlation between the nature of a business and the importance given to CV checking. Unsurprisingly those working with children or vulnerable adults rated this as a high priority. However other businesses without such an obvious reason also put this as a high priority. For example, one respondent said: “….we deal with hydro carbons and need qualified people to work on oil rigs. Health and Safety is paramount and if someone is less experienced than they have said they may jeopardise the health and safety of others and cost us a contract”.