The recruitment process relies heavily on the information contained within CVs, so it is worrying to...
The recruitment process relies heavily on the information contained within CVs, so it is worrying to learn 25% contain false or misleading statements. An employee screening company, The Risk Advisory Group (TRAG), indicated that "everyone expects everyone else to lie on their CV, so why not join them".
It is generally regarded that CVs often contain 'white lies', perhaps exaggerating hobbies and interests; there are cases where bogus qualifications have been added or even a spell in prison covered up. A new employee could have access to money, goods and information within the first few days making it easy to take advantage. These examples highlight the importance of checking a candidate's background before offering them a position.
Once an offer of employment is made and accepted, a legally binding contract is formed. This can be in writing or orally. There is however an implied duty that each party will act with 'mutual trust and confidence'. Clearly, if one party has lied to secure the position that trust is likely to evaporate. In order to seek recourse, the employer would need to demonstrate the implied term of mutual trust and confidence had been broken and would then be entitled to walk away from the contract and potentially claim damages for any loss that may have been suffered.
Of course the severity of the 'lie' will have a bearing on what action an employer can take. If the employee has provided misleading information which helped them secure the position disciplinary action may be appropriate. An employer must comply with the usual statutory disciplinary procedures when taking such action, this will include a fair investigation.
The remedy of dismissal and possible damages will be of little comfort to an employer who has suffered as a result of hiring a 'bogus' employee. The potential for loss and damage to a business is significant - the Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance Scheme (CIFAS) estimates employee fraud costs the UK £40m per year.
What can employers do?
• Check references thoroughly. An employer must provide a true, accurate and fair reference, not give a misleading impression. However, if the reference is accurate and does not mislead, there is no obligation to provide detail. This can result in basic references so it is important additional checks are made.
• Many companies now offer a 'CV checking' service to help verify information.
• Consider using a model similar to that of Sir Alan Sugar in The Apprentice. Many graduate recruitment programmes now operate 'assessment days'. This allows candidates to demonstrate 'soft skills' not easily detected from the usual interview process, and enables employers to get a better feel for the person behind the CV.
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