Not everyone is honest when it comes to job applications. Stretching the truth on a CV or cover letter isn’t unheard of, but it does present some problems for recruiters who are searching for the perfect candidate.
In 2017, Robert Half released results from a survey based around lying on a CV. From the 1,000 professionals questioned, 46% said they knew of someone who had lied on a CV.
76% also suggested that job experience was the information most commonly misrepresented.
This is a concern for recruiters, particularly if you have hundreds of CVs to sift through and an extensive recruitment process to undertake. The thought of pursuing a candidate, only to find out they don’t actually fit the bill is daunting.
Luckily, we have a few ways to help you spot white lies on CVs. By using probing questions, fine-tuning your sifting skills and going simply beyond looking at CVs, you’ll be able to eliminate the truth-stretchers, so you can pursue the quality candidates who will add value to your company.
Check the little details
These are some of areas where a candidate might look to stretch the truth and what you can do to combat the white lies.
Level of education
Applicants may claim a level of education they don’t have, in which case you could ask for proof through certifications awarded. These can also be cross referenced with the awarding body to ensure they are genuine.
Candidates may look to boost their salary by claiming they are being paid more than what they are by their current employer. Consider the length of their experience against the salary they claim – does it seem legit? You could also look at what the average salary should be for that role.
Always check that the dates on the CV line up – are there any gaps between employment or education? A candidate could leave a position off their CV due to the fact that they were made redundant or fired.
Fancy job titles
If their previous job title appears a bit ‘over the top,’ it could be because they are trying to make the position look more important than it was. You can always cross reference job titles through LinkedIn or references.
If a candidate provides a mobile number, call the company number to ask to speak to that person. All too often people will ask a friend to represent them as a reference because they think the employer won’t contact the company in the first place. To avoid chatting to a ‘friend’ of the candidate, contact the company to gain a reference.
CV and cover letter don’t match
An error-free CV paired with a messy cover letter is a clear sign of a disconnect, suggesting the candidate might have had a helping hand with their CV (or attained it from somewhere else.)
Practice common sense in your checks
Does the CV in your hand seem too good to be true? Then review it against the level of experience they have included, asking yourself what is reasonable for a candidate at this level to have achieved.
If you’re still suspicious, it might be worth digging into it a little deeper. The chances are, the candidate could be telling the truth, and they are in fact an exceptional employee – and someone you would definitely want working for you.
Catch them on the phone
When reviewing a candidate’s CV, make detailed notes on any information you need to be clarified – including anything that doesn’t come across as genuine. We would then recommend a phone call to further screen them. By noting down any grey areas, you can tailor your questions to gain the information you want.
Studies have found that while it’s easy to lie on a CV, it’s much harder to do when you’re caught off guard on the phone or in person. So if you are questioning some of their statements, probe them on it and listen for any uncertainties when they reply. If you’re still dubious, add further questions that go into more detail to see if they can provide you with answers.
Cross reference CVs with LinkedIn
Today, most professionals have a LinkedIn profile outlining the majority of information their CV would. You can use this platform to cross-check if what they’ve mentioned on their CV seems true.
Be aware though, plenty of people fail to update their LinkedIn regularly. Endorsements, referrals and testimonials will also help to confirm their experience.
Ask for references
If a reference for a previous employer has not been provided, reach out and ask for one. Contacting previous employers will help you to clarify key details about applicants.
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