A couple of cases across our desks in the last two weeks have reminded us of a problem that always seems to be more acute in a downturn – candidates whose CVs do not quite stand up to scrutiny.
In many ways the problem of candidates' histories is not dissimilar to used car histories and mileage. In an industry that automatically checks vehicle backgrounds (at the risk of severe and certain disciplinary action if it is not done) you are remarkably cavalier about doing the same with candidates.
The figures are interesting. It is claimed that at least 25% openly lie about their past on their CV's. Many of these may be seen as "white lies", giving yourself an extra two O levels, "losing" a job by closing up dates. Others can be more blatant, awarding yourself a degree or MBA for example.
Whichever way you look at it, it is often illegal and genuinely unfair on those who have sweated blood to get the career or the formal qualifications others simply create for themselves.
But what really hacks me off is the sheer waste of time – we know that people will be found out, whether it is today or in two years time. But it is often not their history that catches up with them, just their inability to do their job.
So we try to nip this in the bud, making sure that the information that we have about candidates and their past applications tallies with the details in front of us now.
And it can be quite revealing. When it doesn’t match, if we judge “the oversight” to be not too serious, we give the candidate one chance to sort it. If they don’t, or refuse to see it as a problem, or if it is too serious to begin with, then we pass, unable to help. We’ll look for more reliable people.
But some slip though, and we are still angry over a new candidate who applied to us recently. Great looking CV, good career structure, the right franchises, a proper looking General Manager.
A round trip of nearly 200 miles to meet him was quite positive, until we started our normal cross referencing. A trusted candidate was a “contemporary”, but had never heard of him. Another knew of him, but his two year stay was actually only four months.
It turns out the whole CV was as close to fabricated as you can get, with only two or three jobs having any base in reality. They had been expanded to make it look like his career was stable, structured and planned. In fact he has spent his life bouncing from job to job, waiting to be caught out.
He works as a general manager. Surprisingly the franchise and the group have a very structured recruitment process. And he will earn very well, until someone tips them off, or until the job finds him out. Then it will be time to get the CV out and make it match the career he wants to have had and to waste everyone’s time again.
Which is why another client, caught by the other case we have seen, has lost patience. They will be auditing CVs from now on, making sure that everything claimed is genuine after they have made an offer. Good luck to them.
This business is tough enough without distrusting everything that has been said. We know that the certainty of a complete check flushes many out early on in the recruitment process.
But why do so few of you do this? There is too much money spent on assessments and recruitment to leave it to chance.
Audit it and relax.