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Could your career survive CV fraud?

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With fraud and corruption an ongoing issue within South African organisations, figures released by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) indicate that qualification fraud has become even more rife in the country. School-leaving certificates are the most faked qualification at 41%, followed by degrees at 32% and diplomas at 13%.
Kay Vittee, CEO of Kelly, believes the ongoing increase in CV fraud is compounded by the current high unemployment rate. However she warns that candidates that opt to embellish or blatantly lie on their CVs will end up paying a high price.
“Exaggerating or being dishonest about qualifications and experience could potentially damage your reputation and employability and hence your career. In some instances not only does CV fraud end up in instant dismissal, but you as a potential job candidate may be blacklisted, making it nearly impossible to find employment going forward,” she comments.
And, while most CV fraud stems from candidates being desperate for employment, Vittee says it is also often the case that high-level employees and executives too resort to CV fraud in the hopes of obtaining a promotion or position of power.
“Cases of high profile officials committing CV fraud are reported in the media all the time. One only has to consider the likes of the former Minister of Arts and Culture, Pallo Jordan and Ellen Tshabalala, former chairperson of the SABC, who both ended up being caught out and publically shamed. So one really has to question whether being dishonest on your CV is worth the risk,” she adds.
Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE), a background screening organisation, indicates that the rate of qualifications fraud – mostly involving people lying on their CVs to reflect qualifications or experience that they don’t have – has increased by a massive 200% over the past five years.
And, with leading UK-based fraud prevention agency CIFAS recently cautioning local students with jail time for falsifying their CVs, Vittee says the same may soon be necessary in South Africa.
What happens when you have been caught out lying on your CV, and what can you do to regain your reputation and get back into the job market?
Vittee says: “CV fraud is the same as any other fraud – you could face imprisonment or end up with a criminal record, however, you can also pick-up the pieces and move on with your career aspirations, knowing that honesty is the best policy.
“Transparency is key, although this is going to reduce your chances of employment, you will need to be honest to your potential employers about your criminal record – where necessary. You will also be required to assure your employer that you have learnt your lesson and will do everything in your power to prove you have changed your ways.
“You could also agree on a temporary or probation period or reduced salary to demonstrate your commitment to making it work. Ultimately however honesty is always the best policy and hard work is the only real way to achieve sustainable success when it comes to your chosen career path,” she adds.