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CV Fact or Fiction: How can you Trust Candidates’ CVs?


An increasing number of CVs contain lies – or to use the Risk Advisory Group’s more generous term – ‘discrepancies’. And while professing a non-existent love of outdoor sports may be considered a ‘harmless fib’ by some, other false or inaccurate claims spell disaster both for candidates and businesses.

As an employer, the impact on your time, profits and reputation can be significant. If your screening process isn’t optimised to pick out dishonest candidates, you’re effectively hiring blind. If you’re a candidate who’s caught lying, your integrity and career prospects will be severely compromised.

The most common discrepancies in CVs are found in academic qualifications, employment history, the length of time spent in a job, job titles and personal interests. And contrary to what you might expect, 25-32-year olds have been found to be the worst offenders when it comes to fabricating the truth.

One reason for this could be the pressure to progress to a higher or managerial level, especially in roles where they’re up against numerous other applicants. But recent research also suggests the rise in AI has made it easier to manipulate CVs – I’d hazard a guess that it’s removed some of the fear of getting caught out too.

As an employer, how do pick out the facts from the fiction and ensure you recruit people you can trust? Following the GDPR, the opportunity to perform background checks – including on social media – is much more restrictive. Recommendations can be very revealing, but by the time you receive the necessary responses you’ll probably have invested resources in interviewing the candidate or missed out on more authentic candidates.

As a recruiter who places integrity and transparency at the heart of everything I do, I would say the most effective way to detect CV lies is by developing a more comprehensive recruitment process. At the risk of getting on my soapbox, it’s all about getting to know candidates in person – before you make a costly and ill-informed hiring decision.

Spending time with candidates face to face allows you to delve deeper and ask more probing questions; it makes it much easier to identify a mismatch between what’s being said and what’s been written. What’s more, involving a trusted recruitment partner can make it much more likely candidates will open up and portray a more accurate picture.

As far as candidates go, in our experience employers are usually far more impressed by soft skills and potential than by academic and career embellishments. And the truth will always out…especially with a skilled recruiter partner on board.

Read more about the relevance of CVs in today’s job market on our blog.