Sadly, it is becoming a common occurrence for an employee to exaggerate or fabricate various aspects of their Curriculum Vitae (CV). This is done to increase their attractiveness to prospective employers. It can range from changing employment dates, exaggerating remuneration packages or embellishing their educational qualifications. This trend can be attributed to the high unemployment rate in South Africa which means that employees are becoming more and more desperate for jobs. A study done by the Risk Advisory Group stated that more than half of CVs submitted by job applicants contain disinformation or inaccuracies. This is quite shocking news for employers who want to hire workers who are honest and trustworthy!
The response that you, as an employer, can take, depends on the extent and severity of the disinformation. Misrepresentation is not taken likely in the corporate world. False information on a CV could lead to non-compliance with a term in the employment contract or may amount to dishonesty or fraud which then enables the employer to terminate the employee’s employment due to misconduct. Whether the misrepresentation is sufficient for dismissal, will depend on the facts of the case and the effect it had on the appointment. Employers should, therefore, deal with each matter on its own merits.
The most important question is, “What can you, as the employer, do to avoid this?” Organisations need to implement safeguard mechanisms to avoid résumé discrepancies. These include:
- Always verify the information with the candidate’s former employers.
- Never make assumptions. If something on a CV is unclear or suspicious, ensure that the applicant explains it further.
- If you have used a recruitment agency, do not solely rely on the information provided by them and carry out verification checks.
- An offer of employment should come with conditional requirements. This could range from satisfactory references, a criminal record check and/or a qualifications check. A conditional job offer can then easily be withdrawn if the applicant does not fulfil these conditions.
- Contracts of Employment and Employee Handbooks must state that gross dishonesty and misrepresentations on CVs or application forms will be dismissible.
- Ask for certificates relating to relevant qualifications.
Following the right procedures should allow for detection of deception at an early stage, during the pre-employment checks and interviews and avoid any later problems.
The Labour Counsel offers a wide range of services, including the issuing of proper employment handbooks and conducting fair disciplinary hearings. By ensuring that you have the correct offer of employment and Disciplinary Code, we are able to eliminate the stresses that result from hiring the wrong candidate!