False qualifications are a very popular way of fraudulent CV’s.

A CV is a great way to draw together relevant skills and experience and to show potential employers and agencies how the job criteria have been fulfilled.

The desire to present facts in the best possible light is a natural inclination and some inflation is perhaps expected and indeed, understandable. Unfortunately, some individuals simply fabricate aspects of their past history.

This is a very different matter and has the potential to cause significant problems as employers recruit staff that aren’t qualified for the role and have no experience of what’s needed. We take a closer look at how to sift out the fraudsters and how to detect false claims in a CV.

False academic qualifications

Qualifications are one of the most often faked areas on a CV and the only sure-fire way to catch every candidate out is to ask for a copy of their degree and verify it with an authorised source at the university.

Diploma mills can present a particular problem, however; these are institutions that provide certification when the individual has not attended the course in question. If you aren’t familiar with the university, a quick check on Google can be very revealing.

HR agencies can help with recruitment and will already be aware of the names of some of the most dubious institutions which act as diploma mills.

Another way to spot candidates who are being less than honest is to look for inaccuracies in their history.

For example, any person who has been through the education system will know the order in which degrees are attained; a candidate who is fabricating their qualifications may get them in the wrong order. If a step is missing in the process or the qualifications are chronologically incorrect, it’s a sure-fire sign that all is not as it seems.

Another very telling sign is a degree which has been finished in a super-fast time. Any degree which appears to have been completed in an extremely compressed period is likely to be fake.

Unprovable facts

Make sure you fully check a person’s CV.

In some cases a CV may sound impressive not because of academic skills or job positions, but some of the achievements made on either a personal or professional level.

Making claims which are outlandish or incredulous should be considered very carefully, especially if there is no way of proving whether they are accurate.

An individual may claim for example that they were single-handedly responsible for increasing sales by 300% or for designing and implementing a pioneering in-house system. These kinds of facts may sound impressive but how much truth lies in them?

With no way of establishing whether or not the facts are correct, they should be viewed with extreme caution.

A willingness to take a pay cut

If an applicant offers to take a substantial pay cut in order to join your company, just because they ‘like you’ look very carefully before considering proceeding any further.

The vast majority of individuals would find it difficult to take a substantial drop in salary and a willingness to do may well indicate there were some problems in a previous role.

If the offer to work for less if combined with a company which ‘closed down’, then you should view it as a red flag if you can’t contact a reference from that employer to verify their claims. Be wary of using contact details provided on the CV by the applicant; the power of the internet should help you to find contact information so you can be certain you are talking to a genuine referee.


CVs which contain false information are a growing problem; a recent study suggested that as many as one in five applicants lie about their past employment history, experience or qualifications. There are lots of checks you can carry out to try and identify individuals who are being less than honest or you can use an HR agency to help you with the complexities of the process.

We are very experienced in reviewing CVs and assisting clients through the recruitment process. If you’d like to discuss your requirement please give us a call on 01383 668178 or drop me an email at alistair.booth@thehrbooth.co.uk

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