CV embellishment is commonly practiced by job applicants who want to hide something or wish to appear more qualified than they truly are.
While some aspects of CV embellishment are illegal, such as forging qualifications, others have little or no legal ramifications. The onus is, therefore, on organisations to protect themselves from offering employment to candidates who fabricate information on their CV.
Rudi Kruger, GM of LexisNexis Risk Management, says one of the most prevalent areas of CV embellishment pertains to employment history – where misrepresentation can appear in various forms or for various reasons. However, a common reason for candidates lying about their work history is to avoid the possibility of unflattering information about themselves somehow surfacing.
“Job applicants may lie on their CVs to cover up problems at their previous companies. These include, but are not limited to, violence at the workplace, theft, fraud or other illegal behaviours which may have led to their demotion or dismissal,” he explains. “A particularly significant reason for lying about employment histories would be to cover up convictions and periods of imprisonment.”
In this regard, Kruger says hiring officers should pay close attention to job start and end dates as well as reasons for terminations.
Another common reason – especially in a competitive job market with high levels of unemployment – is the desire to be considered experienced enough for the job by inflating their work experience.
“Job titles, responsibilities, duties and experience listed in CVs may not be accurate and can even be completely made up in some cases. It’s worth probing these areas further to see how much of the information actually checks out.”
This can be achieved through reference checking or with aptitude testing. In addition, Kruger said that there have been incidences in which job applicants list employment tenures at companies that do not exist.
As significant as it is, Kruger says employment history verification is just one step in the overall task of background screening, which is beneficial in rooting out fake qualifications, criminal and credit records, ID and driver’s licences among others.
“With so many concerns regarding the accuracy of candidates’ CVs, it is clear that complete background screening is the safest way to protect your organisation,” says Kruger.
Verifying candidates’ background is made easier with technology based solutions like LexisNexis RefCheck Advanced, a leading South African pre-employment and background screening solution that is arguably one of the most essential tools in human resource management and staff recruitment today.
The online verification solution helps to automate the hiring process while ensuring a candidate meets a company’s employment standards. Its services include verification of tertiary and secondary academic qualifications held by the individual from registered local and international institutions; identity and South African citizenship validation; fraud history checks via the South African Fraud Prevention Services; credit history checks through detailed TransUnion and Experian credit bureau reports; criminal history check via AFISwitch (electronic fingerprint collection and processing); verification of local and international employment history and professional association membership; verification of drivers’ licence status; and matching of bank account information against an identity number or registration number.