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6th Oct, 2022

Jack Ireland
Jack Ireland
Job Title
Content Marketing Executive

Hiring a new employee takes time and resource. You hope they will flourish within your organisation and deliver an outstanding standard of work, helping it to grow and develop. 

However, sometimes you may make a ‘bad hire’ through no fault of your own. Perhaps you hired them because they talked on their CV and at interview about having the skills, knowledge and ability to carry out certain tasks but as time evolves, it becomes clear they don’t. 

If a candidate has lied about their experience, qualifications or skills on their CV, then it’s classed as an act of CV fraud. 

Being able to detect CV fraud can be difficult as there is a preconceived notion that candidates are truthful and honest when applying for a role – which in the vast majority of cases is correct. As an employer, it’s essential to protect your business against fraudulent activity to make sure your recruitment process doesn’t fall victim. 

What is CV fraud? 

CV fraud can take many forms, from an exaggerated work history to false qualifications from a university the candidate has never studied at. 

The rate of CV fraud in the UK may be more common than you think. Research conducted by fraud prevention service Cifas, discovered one-in-12 British people have lied about qualifications on their CV, while one-in-six candidates aged between 16-24 admitted to fraudulent conduct. 

People may think that changing one or two exam grades is a small white lie – it isn't, it's fraud and brings the entire application into disrepute.

Keith Rosser

Director, Reed Screening

While CV fraud may be uncommon in the news, you can be given a prison sentence, or served with a confiscation order - to make sure the money earned as a result of misleading the employer is repaid. 

The common claims on a CV that could be fraudulent 

Embellishment on a CV is quite common. According to research from criminal records umbrella body CareCheck, 51% of UK adults said they have lied on their CV. These lies range from qualifications and work experience, to gaps in employment and hobbies/interests. 

Here are a few areas where a candidate may exaggerate or supply false information on their CV: 


Qualifications are one of the most overstated parts of a CV, with 27% of CareCheck respondents admitting they lied about their GCSEs, A-levels, or a university degree. 

This doesn’t just include specific qualifications, but also the mark or result, with result tampering often a key component. If your roles require a certain qualification or level of education, it may be worth double checking the information candidates have provided. 

Job titles 

Sometimes job titles can be embellished, making a senior-level candidate’s role sound more authoritative. For example, when recruiting for a senior level position, a candidate may put down that they were a chief financial officer of an accountancy firm, when in fact they were employed as an accountant. 

Increasing the duration of a job 

There’s an assumption a short duration within a job is a bad thing. As a result, people often increase the length of time they served within a company to emphasise the amount of experience they have. 

Gaps in employment 

Having gaps on a CV is not unusual. More often than not, a gap in employment isn’t a big deal. When a candidate lies about a gap in their CV, it’s considered CV fraud under UK vetting regulations. 

Increasing responsibilities and skills 

Jobseekers often edit their skills and responsibilities to make them seem more appealing. While this may also sound innocent, it can be fraudulent. 

Providing false references 

Candidates may provide false references – either from friends, family members, or by pretending a former colleague is a boss (making up their job title). This is dishonest and also fraudulent. 

Avoiding CV fraud 

Sifting through hundreds of applications can be time consuming enough, without having to focus on the honesty and accuracy of those CVs in front of you. 

The best way to ensure your hiring process is as effective as it can be, is to conduct comprehensive applicant checks. Pre-employment screening uses information to help evaluate and screen potential employees. 

This type of solution reduces the potential risk of an unsuitable hire, while allowing hiring managers the opportunity to focus on hiring the best talent for the role. At the same time, there are many ways to conduct a background check the wrong way, which means as an employer you need to take great care to follow the rules. 

If the role you’re hiring for requires a high degree of trust, consider using a vetting service. It’s common practice to screen your candidates if the role they applied for would have them deal with large sums of money, customer or confidential data, or vulnerable clients.  

Every industry is different, but vetting usually includes identity checks, address verification, work and education history verification, criminal record checks, character references, and in some cases, credit checks. 

The need for due diligence in recruitment 

Having a compliant recruitment process is vital. Strong due diligence is needed to avoid errors, and in turn, make sure your business isn’t caught out by fraudulent CVs. Failure to be compliant can result in your business facing criminal penalties. 

It’s worth making sure that throughout the recruitment process, you are focused on consistency when sifting through CVs – two or more candidates applying for the same role should have the same rigorous checks. 

Ensuring staff members responsible for hiring are adequately trained on how to be compliant will enhance your recruitment process, and help to reduce the risk of deception from an embellished CV. 

As an employer, it’s worth making sure that you don’t always take the information candidates put on their CVs at face value. To protect your own interests, be sure to carry out checks for those candidates you’ve shortlisted, while also asking to see certificates that relate to the relevant qualifications for the role. 

When interviewing a potential candidate, it may be worth probing into certain areas of their CV to gain further insight into their experience and knowledge. Not only does this give you more information on their suitability for the role, but it can also help settle any doubts you might have of their credentials. For example, if a candidate has mentioned they were a project manager at a previous role, ask them to elaborate on their roles, responsibilities, and any examples of successful project work. 

While CV fraud may be more widespread than many people realise, effective procedures like pre-employment screening can ensure the credibility of a candidate’s CV before they’ve even joined your organisation. 

Looking for a trusted recruitment agency to take your hiring to the next level? Start a conversation with one of our expert consultants today