Don’t live a lie

With a bit of creative editing a job applicant’s CV you can be upgraded from mediocre A-levels to A grades. So what can an employer do to detect those who distort the facts?

You were a little lazy at school and not much of a joiner, but never mind: with a bit of creative editing on your CV you can upgrade those four mediocre A-levels to A grades and become captain of your school rugby team.

However, you may want to think again before taking any editorial licence. As media reports earlier in the year revealed, an executive at an international hotel chain had to quit after it was discovered that he had lied on his CV about his qualifications.

This was quickly followed by news that the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal had ordered that a solicitor be struck off for, among other things, providing false informationon his CV and falsifying his training records.

So what can an employer do to detect those who distort the facts?

Consider using an application form that makes it harder to hide gaps than on a CV and makes comparing candidates easier. Make sure someone reasonably senior actually bothers to read all references and all should be followed up with a phone call to the author to check its authenticity.

Exaggeration of professional experience is harder to check. One of the most effective ways to flush this out is to ask technical questions at interview. It is also sensible to ask to see original certificates of qualification to check authenticity.

What do you do if it is discovered that an employee has lied on their CV after employment has commenced?

The employee should be given the opportunity to explain themself at a disciplinary hearing. If they have been employed for more than a year, a statutory disciplinary procedure should be followed.

If you are considering fabricating part of your CV, think again.

Lying on a CV and failing to disclose that lie during the course of employment could amount to a fundamental breach of the terms of mutual trust and confidence, entitling the employer to dismiss you summarily without notice or payment in lieu of notice.

In the most serious cases, the lie can amount to obtaining a pecuniary/financial advantage by deception, which is a criminal offence. An employer could in theory seek to recover damages from you, including the costs of recruitment.

Where employees are subject to regulation (by the Law Society or the Financial Services Authority, for example), anyone found to have lied could be struck off.

You have been warned.