Lies, damn lies and CVs

2004

The number of British job applicants lying on their CVs rose significantly last year as the tough jobs market made people ever-more desperate to secure employment.

Annual figures from the corporate investigations agency The Risk Advisory Group showed that two-thirds of job seekers submitted applications containing factual inaccuracies, a rise of ten per cent on 2002.

The results came from a detailed analysis of 3,000 of the investigations conducted during the year by TRAG for companies across a range of sectors and mark a further worsening of the problem.

Last year, TRAG found that the proportion of job applicants with such discrepancies grew 15 per cent year-on-year, from 54 per cent in the last quarter of 2001 to 62 per cent in the last quarter of 2002.

In 2003 the problem appeared to grow as the year went on, with almost three-quarters of CVs found to contain innacuracies during the final quarter of the year.

More than half (55 per cent) of all the CVs TRAG scrutinised in 2003 contained employment discrepancies while over a third (36 per cent) contained incorrect academic details.

The worst offenders were women in their early 30s, more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of whose CVs contained some form of discrepancy.

The most honest group were men in their early 20s, but even so half of their CVs were less than scrupulously honest.

TRAG’s Alan Beazley, said that while most discrepancies were honest mistakes, one in ten were serious issues such as lies about criminal convictions, fraud against previous employers and even terrorist links.

Because employers expect to see details of up to ten years of employment, university, schooling and address history, he said that it was inevitable that people would make some mistakes.

But, he added: "In quite a lot of cases there appears to be a systematic attempt to omit or massage information."

"Under employment, people might say they left a project when they were made redundant, or worked somewhere they did not. People not declaring the true reasons for them leaving is pretty serious," he said.

TRAG’s CEO, Bill Waite said that the motivation for lying on a CV was often simple ‘survival of the fittest’.

"In a tougher job market, it is clear the temptations for exaggeration or downright lying increase dramatically,” he said.