CV lies multiply in recession, says survey

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More would-be bankers than ever are lying on their CVs, according to an annual lie-check conducted by an employee screening company. Powerchex says that 19% of job candidates in the financial services industry had a discrepancy on their CVs.

The company said that the number of CVs containing lies submitted to IT contracting firms has risen to 18%. Powerchex added that the increase is due to the recession making the job market more difficult.

Financial services job applicants submitted CVs containing lies in 19% of cases, a 12% rise on last year. The figure represents a three year high for lie figures, Powerchex said.

The figure of 18% for IT contracting jobs is triple what it was last year and is also a three year high, the company said.

“This is the second year in a row that there has been an increase in the number of candidates lying to recruiters," said Alexandra Kelly, managing director of Powerchex. "The pressure of the recession on job markets seems to have led more applicants to believe that they should lie or make embellished claims to get jobs."

The figures are gleaned from 4,735 job applications submitted in the year to May 2009. Applicants lied about many kinds of details including professional qualifications, job histories, criminal records, academic qualifications and responsibilities, Powerchex said.

The research found that university graduates are more honest than non-graduates, and men more honest than women. It said that City brokers received a disproportionate number of applicants who had hidden their criminal records.

By far the most common discrepancy was in employment dates, which represented 42% of all discrepancies. Next most common were undisclosed directorships, followed by lies about academic qualifications.

The research was carried out by the Shell Technology and Enterprise Programme on behalf of Powerchex.

Employment law specialist Ben Doherty of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM, agreed that the economic downturn is adding to pressure on job applicants.

"In my experience, as a result of the credit crunch the number of applicants for each vacancy has increased, whilst the number of vacancies has decreased," he said. "Accordingly, the level of competition for vacant posts has increased significantly."

Doherty said that would-be workers who lie on CVs or applications can be fired when found out.

"I would advise everybody to be honest on their CVs and application forms," he said. "The fact that you lied may not come to the employers attention for some time but there have been cases where people have been dismissed, even from extremely senior jobs, for lying on CVs years earlier."

"An employer who has suspicions that an employee has been dishonest in the application process can investigate that potential misconduct and interview the employee," said Doherty. "If they are still concerned they can start disciplinary proceedings and if at the end of that process they hold an honest and genuine belief that the employee has been dishonest then they will be entitled to terminate that employment on the grounds of gross misconduct."

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