More than half of CVs submitted by job applicants in 2002 contained lies or inaccuracies, according to research by The Risk Advisory Group (TRAG).
Fifty-six per cent of investigations by TRAG's employee screening unit uncovered lies or inaccuracies on candidate CVs, ranging from gaps in employment to falsified qualifications and fraud committed against previous employers.
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.
The worst offenders during 2002 were women in their late twenties and men in their late thirties, with two-thirds of applicants in each group (65 per cent) having some form of discrepancy on their CVs. IT contractors, a significant portion of the sample, were particularly liable to lies or omissions, with 70 per cent of applications having some form of discrepancy; undeclared directorships were particularly high for this group.
The results came from a detailed analysis of 2,700 of the investigations conducted during the year by TRAG for companies across a range of sectors.
Bill Waite, chief executive of The Risk Advisory Group, said that the tough economic climate was playing a part, as candidates get increasingly desperate to secure new jobs.
"Much of what we uncover is simply the result of mild exaggeration or inadvertent error, rather than malicious intent." He said. "But there is a growing tendency for people to feel they can cheat their way in."
The TRAG study showed that the most common inaccuracies on CVs were in employment history (79 per cent of candidates with discrepancies), academic history (40 per cent) and financial and personal background (30 per cent). Men are more likely than women to cover up or omit information on academic history (38 per cent versus 34 per cent); women are more likely to have employment discrepancies (75 per cent versus 67 per cent).