South Africa’s unemployment rate is at 25%, according to the most recent figures from Statistics SA. As the cost of living goes up, so too does the anxious demand for employment. With an estimated 5,2-million people of employable age, many run the risk of resorting to being dishonest in their applications and CVs to secure a job.
One of the most dependable checks of background screening is employment history verification. Indepth verification of where your candidate worked, positions held, reasons for leaving and gaps in employment should be analysed as this information can greatly inform your decision to offer someone a job, according to Greg Brown, director of LexisNexis Governance, Risk & Compliance.
Applicants could lie about their employment history for various reasons. However, some falsehoods are more common than others. “Often job applicants lie on their CV to either cover up issues with previous employers, periods of non-employment or periods of imprisonment. They may also stretch periods of employment at previous jobs,” said Brown. “The applicant would not want hiring managers to know of their previous transgressions like theft, fraud, misconduct or violent behaviour, which could have led to their dismissal.”
People may lie to secure a job that demands a certain level of experience, expertise or rank. “They may lie because they want the specific job you have to offer even though they may not be suitable or ready for the role. It could be that they desire a higher ranking or paying position. To achieve that, they may exaggerate their previous job descriptions and salaries,” says Brown.
With an astute approach, employers may find identifiable signs that someone may have furnished their CVs with deceitful information like false employment. “A good sign to look out for is when companies are mentioned on the CV, but are difficult to trace or verify, especially online. Today, it’s very rare for a business to not have at least some sort of web presence,” Brown advises.
With regard to references, candidates can list their friends’ details in place of the relevant manager. “This can be identified by the submission of just a contact name and cell phone number, without a job title along with the details,” says Brown. Big breaks in employment are another sign to look out for as this could mask dismissals or acrimonious departures.
The dangers of failing to verify a candidate’s employment history are simple. “Should you hire someone who did indeed lie on their CV, and got away with it, you have literally invited a dishonest person into your organisation and created opportunity for fraud, theft and misconduct. A dishonest character cannot be trusted with the responsibilities of the job, especially if they are underqualified to perform at a certain level,” says Brown.