Job application fraud continues to rise as job seekers resort to desperate measures

It is universally agreed that the last two years have been the toughest and arguably most competitive jobs marketplace during the post-war era. But despite the proverbial ‘green shoots’ of recovery promising a better, more prosperous future it seems that some job seekers are still prepared to do whatever they can to gain a competitive advantage over the rivals – even if that means committing ‘job application fraud.’

A couple of weeks ago, a survey by IT Job Board, an online recruitment advertising site for technology vacancies, found that some 62 per cent of respondents would withhold details of a vacancy from their colleagues to avoid competition for the role. Some even advocated what could best be regarded as ‘questionable tactics’. Indeed, more than a third (35 per cent) admitted they would make persistent calls to a recruiter to ‘persuade’ the consultant to offer them an interview, whilst a further 13 per cent would go so far as to physically visit a recruiter’s offices and refuse to leave unless they were seen.

So what do these findings tell us? Are we living in a society that has become one of desperation whereby some job seekers are forced to resort to desperate and often unethical measures to enhance their chances of job seeking success? Put simply: yes.

In 2008, The Apprentice winner Lee McQueen was caught out for lying about his qualifications on his CV, yet it did him no harm – he won the competition and went on to pocket a £100k salary in the process. Yet some lies are more serious than others.

Other people lie about their age, proficiency in certain high-demand languages such as French or Japanese, or the length of time they spent working for a former employer – as was the case of Rhiannon Mackay earlier this year; Ms Mackay became the first woman in the UK to be jailed for falsifying her references and qualifications on her CV.

However, many employers are becoming increasingly alert to the problem of job application fraud.

PeopleChecking, an organisation which provides background checks and employment screening services to public and private sector organisations, has seen demand for its services increase by over 25 per in 2010 alone as the number of application fraud instances seems to be growing at an alarming rate.

Accordingly: “71% of employers have encountered lies on CVs. Despite this, 33% of employers admit they ‘don’t have time to carry out checks’. The average cost of hiring an individual is £5-10,000 (CIPD 2006) but if a proportion of those recruited are not suitable, this will result in a huge waste of time and money.”

In fact, only 14 per cent of job applications contain discrepancies. In 2009, this figure had risen to 19 per cent and PeopleChecking indicate that by the end of 2010, more than 22 per cent of all job applications will be – in effect – fraudulent.

If an applicant claims they can do X, Y and Z they need to qualify it with- and be prepared to show- evidence of proficiency. Employers are looking for candidates with a genuine knowledge and real understanding of their organisation, it’s main competitors, the issues and trends affecting their sectors in which they operate, and come armed with a plethora of questions to ask their interviewer.

While desperation can push some people into adopting an unethical approach to their job search strategy, they are unlikely to get past the interview stage unless they can back up what they say they can do and, more importantly, have a natural curiosity and thirst for knowledge about the company they are applying to.


About yourcareermatters
CareerMatters was founded as part of MacKenzie-Cummins Communications in 2006 by Paul MacKenzie-Cummins MICG (Member Institute of Careers Guidance), regarded as one of the UK's leading career's advice and guidance writers and specialist PR consultant for the UK recruitment industry. Since 2006 Paul has been the leading advice writer for and - the two biggest careers website in the world -tackling all aspects of workplace and management issues, job seeking, career change and hiring trends. In 2006, 2007 and 2008 his writing contributed to Monster winning the Best Employment Advice on the Internet Award for an unprecedented three times beating the likes of The Guardian, Learn Direct and Personnel Today on each occasion. And his work was a runner-up for the same award in 2009. In 2009 Paul was a nominee in the prestigious HR Journalist of the Year Award and Recruitment, Retention & Motivation Journalist of the Year Award. Paul has been commissioned to write more than 500 careers advice and guidance articles for a number of lpublications, from regional and national newspapers to industry publications and various career-specific websites in the UK and USA. Recently, Paul was the Technical Editor for career psychologist Dr Rob Yeung's Job Hunting & Career Change for Dummies (John Wiley & Son, 2007). Dr Yeung is better known as the TV psychologist for Channel 4's Big Brother and the BBC's Who Would Hire You? series. Clients include: MSN Careers (Europe) TheLadders TotalJobs IntaPeople Recruitment Lifetracks/YouthNET MediaSalesJobs The Press Gazette

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