Job-seeker lies on the rise

Apr 10 2002 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Lies or inaccuracies on CVs rose by more than 20 per cent as recession fears took hold during the last quarter of 2001, according to research by The Risk Advisory Group (TRAG), one of Europe’s leading providers of employee screening services.

Fifty-four per cent of CVs screened by TRAG during the last quarter showed some form of discrepancy. The main areas in which lies, inaccuracies or cover-ups on CVs grew were in previous employment history details (which rose by 20 per cent) and in academic qualifications (which rose by a massive 86 per cent).

Men were the worst offenders, with the proportion of male CVs containing lies or inaccuracies rising by 24 per cent (against a rise of only 16 per cent for women).

Candidates over forty showed the greatest growth in lies or inaccuracies over the period (up 48 per cent). Men in their early thirties are the group most likely to offend, however, with almost seven in ten CVs from this age group containing some form of discrepancy.

The findings came from analysis of a sample of 877 of the thousands of CVs submitted to screening by TRAG’s analysts during the last half of 2001. Results for the last quarter were compared to results for June (taken as the last pre-Summer ‘non-recession’ month).

Andrew Fisher, managing director of TRAG’s employee screening subsidiary, Zephon, said:

“People are always surprised by the large proportion of CVs that show some form of discrepancy when scrutinised by expert analysts. But most of these discrepancies are harmless omissions or honest mistakes and need not affect the hiring decision.

“Yet the sharp rise in the level of discrepancies between June and the last quarter suggests that the typical mild exaggeration of job-seekers developed into something more sinister as fears of recession took hold.

“As people got more worried about the economy, we saw candidates covering up previous redundancy or sackings, conveniently forgetting about past employers who would make poor referees, or creating wholly bogus academic histories. Our results would indicate that the worst offenders are men in their early thirties.

“CV lies, once made, can be hard to undo. Employers need to be increasingly careful in their interview and selection processes. One candidate successfully invented an MBA to make himself eligible for a senior appointment years previously. He was forced to keep it in his CV to protect his earlier lie and was only exposed when we screened his CV 15 years later.”

The Risk Advisory Group is one of Europe's leading independent investigations and intelligence consultancies, specialising in providing analysis and advisory services to a wide range of private and public sector organisations. It was founded in late 1997 and currently employs 80 staff, at offices in central London and Moscow. The company is chaired by Nigel Turnbull, former finance director of the Rank Group and author of the eponymous report on corporate governance. The chief executive is Bill Waite, a barrister and former Serious Fraud Office prosecutor. Further information is available at

Through its subsidiary company Zephon, TRAG conducts screening of thousands of candidates every year, for companies principally in the business and financial sectors.

Screening activities are tailored to client needs but typically consist of interrogation of public data sources, authentication of professional and academic qualifications and investigation of previous employment histories. All screening is conducted with the consent of the applicant and complies with data protection and discrimination legislation.

For further information contact Ray Eglington at Four Communications.
Tel: +44 (0) 207 763 5999 Mob: +44 (0) 7973 893208.