The lies candidates tell on their CVs and how employers can fact-check

The lies candidates tell on their CVs and how employers can fact-check

When sifting through a pile of CVs, you’ll likely come across candidates who don’t match your job description. Be it qualifications, years in service or responsibilities, your first task is separating qualified from unqualified candidates.

Following this, you can start the shortlisting stage, looking for people who stand out from the crowd and impress. It may not even occur to you that any information you read could be inaccurate or dishonest. Yet our survey has revealed that over half of the adults asked falsified their CV.

51% of UK adults have lied on their CV

We spoke to 1,005 people, and 512 admitted to using a CV that wasn’t 100% true. Men and millennials were the main culprits, with 61% and 59% including false information, respectively. 

Most respondents (44%) lied on their CV when applying for entry-level positions. With many businesses requiring specific experience for these roles, school leavers and graduates can feel like dishonesty is the only solution to gain employment and begin getting that experience. 

Worryingly, 40% of those surveyed falsified their CV when applying for a management-level position, and 20% for a senior management role. This gives a whole new perspective to ‘fake it ’til you make it’ and can be quite a dangerous dice to roll depending on the industry they work in. 

The most common CV lies and what you can do

We also asked our survey-takers what precisely they falsified. Some answers were expected, whereas others were more surprising. The good news is that by adding a process or two to your hiring strategy, you can fact-check the information most commonly lied about:

9% fibbed about their age

This is an interesting lie in that it’s an aspect of the application that recruiters may not be too bothered about. Yet if a candidate feels that they have to lie, that denotes a problem that should be addressed. 

5% of survey respondents pretended to be younger than they are, and 4% claimed to be older. The latter could be a significant problem, specifically if the role has minimum age requirements, such as handling alcohol, for example. 

You can prove a candidate’s age quite easily through a Basic DBS check, which any employer can legally ask for. This check requires a candidate to provide identification that will also state their date of birth. Please bear in mind that you should only request this after you have offered the candidate the position.

Falsifying qualifications and grades

If we were to generalise this, it would have been the most common CV lie admitted by our respondents. But we felt it essential to ascertain which qualifications were being falsified to gauge the true extent of the problem:

  • 27% falsely increased GCSE grades.
  • 20% falsely increased A-Level grades.
  • 5% lied about having GCSEs, A-Levels or a degree.
  • 8% falsely increased their University qualification.
  • 3% lied about having a masters degree.

Job descriptions that require specific qualifications often relate to how you performed at University, which has the lowest percentage of dishonesty. 

The easiest way of fact-checking this is to request tangible proof as part of the process. If this is a route you are hoping to go down, be sure to clarify this at the start of the process. 

34% lied about their hobbies and interests

This is the second most common fib admitted by our survey respondents. It’s fascinating because many wouldn’t give a second thought to this part of an application. After all, a highly skilled candidate who doesn’t hold the same interests as the rest of the team is still a viable applicant. 

Yet it seems to be of great importance to potential employees, who lie about this more than one-third of the time. Depending on the type of hobby they claim to enjoy, one way of fact-checking this is by scouring their social media profiles. If they are talking about a particular hobby or interest or posting pictures of them engaging in that activity, you’ll have the proof you need that they were honest. 

Although bear in mind that there may be legalities surrounding using social media as part of your recruitment process.

41% exaggerated their previous responsibilities

This is not only the most common lie; it is also the most difficult to prove. The only way you can check is by personalising the reference request you send to previous employers, asking them to list the roles and responsibilities the candidate held during their employment. 

Beware, though; there’s no guarantee that a previous employer will take the time to check and supply this information; therefore, just because they didn’t include it doesn’t mean the candidate lied. Perhaps the difficulty in fact-checking is one of the reasons it’s the most common fib on CVs?

Final thoughts from Care Check

Having discovered there’s a good chance that over half of the CVs you receive have a fib or two in them can be a problematic fact to come to terms with. We recommend considering the information and perhaps altering your recruitment strategy to fact-check CVs as much as possible. But most importantly, treat everybody equally and fairly until you prove that their application has been falsified.

And in the instance that you catch a candidate in a lie, perhaps take the time to ascertain why they felt they had to do so. It may reveal something about your job descriptions and your wider industry that needs addressing.