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What can businesses do if an employee lies on their CV to get the job?

For many businesses, finding the ideal candidate for an open role can be a stressful process. Numerous hours (and resources) are devoted to recruiting the best person for the job. So what’s a business left to do if a candidate padded their resume to stand out from the crowd?

“Despite it being a fairly common practice, it’s actually not that easy to define a dodgy CV, especially from the onset of the recruitment process,” said Ms Emma Dawson, Face2Face Business Partner at Employsure.  “Often an employer is unable to detect a dodgy CV until an employee starts working and inconsistencies become apparent.”

She highlights some common signs of an exaggerated CV to watch for.

“Common signs can be inconsistencies with the application form, the CV, and what they say verbally. One example can include inconsistencies with dates where what the candidate starts discussing verbally in an interview might not match up with what’s on their resume. If details in the CV are vague or general, like ‘studied a degree’ it can raise questions. Where did they study? How long ago? Did they complete their degree? Did they pass? What was their major?”

Often, if a CV is built on buzzwords, it could signal an attempt to distract from the suitability for the job and the reality of their employment history.

In a recent LinkedIn Australia poll with over 7,500 responses, an overwhelming 75 per cent of employees said honesty is key and that they’d never lie on a CV. Meanwhile, 18 per cent stated they wouldn’t lie because “it’s too risky.” Notably, just 5 per cent said they’d lie to “sound good.”

“A dodgy CV can include things like a better-sounding job title than what the candidate actually had in their past job. There might be a few added weeks or months to the actual time served in previous jobs, to make up gaps in employment,” Ms Dawson offered.

“In many cases, it’s not a matter of outright dishonest content. A dodgy CV can include subtle dishonesty or an exaggeration of the truth. Candidates might claim to have performed certain projects or duties when the reality of it is they may have done these jobs once or twice and not actually gained the necessary experience to take on ownership of the task. Maybe they’ve put their mates down as references who they’ve never actually worked with.”

What can businesses do if an employee lies on their CV to get the job?
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Typically, a typo in a document or a mild exaggeration of skills would be considered minor offenses in the eyes of the law as a resume is not a legal document. However, faking documents like letters of reference or formal qualifications would be deemed forgery. Knowingly using fake documents or possessing one with the intention of using it has a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment as per Commonwealth law. There could also be financial consequences in the form of reparations to the business for fraud.

Ms Dawson added, “There are protections for employers, so long as any actions that are taken in dealing with such matters are carried out lawfully and in line with best practice. Employers should always be mindful of the process they take when they’re looking at terminating someone for providing a dodgy CV, and ensure that any such process is fair and gives regard to the circumstances.”

What can businesses do to avoid these situations?

  • To begin with, a clear description of the role and expectations in the job advertisement, distinguishing between essential and desirable skills and qualification, will assist prospective candidates while applying for the job.
  • Businesses can opt for additional information tools like reference checks, aptitude tests, and questionnaires to obtain more information about the candidate.
  • Background check tools like Checkr, Intelius, TruthFinder, and Certn are helpful in searching public records to confirm information mentioned in the CV.
  • Similarly, reference checking software like Xref, SkillSurvey, Referroo, and Checkster assist in streamlining the verification process.

However, Ms Dawson also points out the importance of being mindful of what is asked in the recruitment stage.

“Some questions can cause a risk of discrimination,” she noted. “For example, if someone of an ethnic background uses an Anglo-Saxon name rather than their birth name on their CV. If an employer goes ahead and asks questions that imply a candidate is being dishonest, this isn’t going to hold up as a basis for rejecting their application form as it won’t impact their capacity to carry out the inherent requirements of the job.”

Depending on the situation, it could lead to adverse action against the business.

“Adverse action is essentially considering discriminatory factors, especially in the recruitment stage. When you’re looking at adverse action, you’re looking at questions that might be targeted at personal attributes, or protected attributes such as age, sex, race, gender, etc. Employers should steer away from this as it can expose a business to further issues later down the line,” Ms Dawson explained.

READ MORE: Hiring in a pandemic: potential versus experience

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Rhea Laxmi Nath

Rhea Laxmi Nath

Rhea L Nath is a Sydney-based writer and editor. In 2022, she was named Young Journalist of the Year at the NSW Premier's Multicultural Communications Awards.

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