Lying on your CV – Fraud, fiction,

Lying on your CV

or countering an unnecessary requirement for the role?

Everyone lies on their CV, don’t they? An adjusted date here, a change in job title there. For many, it’s a harmless tweak. Making your job title more meaningful to the outside world, or a way to stop recruiters asking about that four-month gap from six years ago. It doesn’t often matter in the grand scheme of things.

But some people go as far as creating false qualifications, yet still do a great job when they’re hired. So, it begs the question: It’s certainly intentional fraud, but do unnecessary role requirements encourage lying on a CV? In a recent Employment Tribunal case, former NHS Chief Executive, Jon Andrewes, was forced to repay over 15% of his total earnings. Why? Because he lied on his CV. He listed a PhD and MBA he doesn’t have. (Source: BBC)

Yet he held his position for eleven years and was given multiple ratings of strong or outstanding. Surely that’s an argument the educational requirements requested were unnecessary for the role. His ability was far more important.

Does education matter?

When you write a job description, degrees and length of experience make for easy/lazy screening. It’s why 30% of employers over-inflate the education requirements for roles. You don’t necessarily need a degree to be a Marketing Assistant, but it’s an easy way to start shortlisting. And some managers believe it’s helping them recruit for the future.

Yet completing a degree doesn’t demonstrate attitude. It doesn’t highlight whether someone has a can-do approach. It just shows whether they perform well in exam situations.

In the case of Jon Andrewes, the former NHS Chief Executive, he made up his PhD and MBA. Yet it didn’t stop him delivering in his job. His approach was such that the educational certificates didn’t matter. So, it was only when the deceit became obvious that there was even an issue.

For the avoidance of doubt, we’re not advocating lying on your CV, but it does challenge how important those requirements really were. He was able to get ratings of strong and outstanding even without those qualifications. So perhaps the root problem wasn’t with him, but with the job description?

Getting the best out of job descriptions

According to Hays What Workers Want Survey, 80% of employers would consider hiring for potential, rather than experience, and then upskill. They’re facing a skills shortage, and HR managers are looking for flexible ways to draw talent in. Yet many still list unnecessary requirements on their job descriptions.

Managers talk about wanting people who can grow and develop with new business challenges. Yet they continue to add degrees as proxy for candidate capability.

But artificial requirements on job descriptions do nothing to help your recruitment. Instead, they negatively impact employee engagement and retention. People start jobs they’re over-qualified for and they’re soon bored; or frustrated about being mis-sold their role, and they look elsewhere. Meanwhile, you incur an estimated 50% of their annual costs while you re-start recruitment in a candidate-driven market, with no guarantee of a quick hire.

So, instead, you need to take a critical look at what goes into your job descriptions and be sure you’re looking for the right things for the role. If you don’t need a degree, don’t add one; and discourage people from feeling the need to lie on a CV just to get through the first stage.

Recruiting for potential

Great candidates won’t just appear thanks to an accurate job description. You need to look at your recruitment processes too. There are ways to help managers spot someone lying on a CV. And in the case of Jon Andrewes, they might have saved a lot of hassle, time, and costly legal expenses.

Traditional interviews are certainly helpful. They establish rapport and provide opportunities for discussion of key points. But they should only be part of a selection process, because they’re subjective and only as good as the interviewer. And, given that 63% of interviewers decide about a candidate within 5 minutes (and spend the rest of the interview justifying the decision), it tells its own story.

HR Managers should also look to include recruitment assessments. They provide ways of understanding more about current ability, future potential, and offer indicators of softer skills that will serve the business well in the future. They don’t have to be lengthy and expensive, but they do need to be flexible around the needs of the role.

For senior positions, you’ll want to look closer, but for entry level you just need indicators of preferences and how well someone might perform. It gives you a way to ask more questions, using objective, science-based measures to help inform the decision.

And in a world that’s ever-changing, your criteria might need to change too. So read about the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) environment we’re operating in and learn how you can identify leaders to successfully drive your future.

Ready to make better hiring decisions with easy to understand psychometric tests?

No calls, no contract, no commitment – yours to try for free.

More from the blog