Liar Liar, CV on fire? - The Week in HR

23 September 2016

When does a boast become a lie? When does bragging become dishonesty?

In applying for a coveted job, applicants may give the impression that they were more involved in or responsible for a successful project. How do you tell the point at which this becomes so divorced from reality that it is fraudulent?

It seems that in today's increasingly cut-throat job market applicants are overstepping the mark and their lies are causing both financial loss and reputational damage to employers.

A recent survey carried out by AXELOS reported that, in the last three years, almost 100,000 candidates have lied about their qualifications on application forms. Of greater concern for the readership of this blog, 14% of HR professionals have had to deal with at least five cases of underqualified employees being found out.

The survey shows that the two biggest concerns for employers of hiring under-qualified staff are poor performance and the risk of reputational damage. I would add in a third - dishonesty.

Not only that, but over 40% of companies have reportedly spent £10,000 on rehiring staff after discovering that they have employed someone who was not properly qualified for the position. Even more galling for HR, 9% of companies surveyed had been forced to spend a whopping £40,000 or more on finding new recruits.

In spite of the costly risks of hiring under-qualified candidates, the survey shows an alarmingly low number of HR professionals (48%) actually verify an applicant's qualifications before offering them an employment contract.

What happens to candidates who are found out? 54% of HR professionals said that they would dismiss a culprit that outright lied. However, employees are less likely to be dismissed for just exaggerating, with only 37% of HR professionals saying that they would dismiss the individual.

If the majority of HR teams are prepared to dismiss an individual for lying about their qualifications, surely the validity of a candidate's professed qualifications on their application form should subject to more thorough screening?

Working forward for women

An alliance headed up by Barclays, BT Group, Ford, John Lewis Partnership, and Transport for London amongst others is working to abolish workplace discrimination against pregnant women and new mothers. Despite claims to have improved, some companies are guilty of chronic inaction. In spite of 84% of British businesses claiming to support pregnant women and women on maternity leave, 77% of these women have had a negative or discriminatory experience in the workplace.

Added to that, a Mumsnet survey uncovered that 33.3% of employers have overheard those in charge of recruitment making comments about the extra hassle involved in employing a woman.The "Working Forward" alliance aims to tackle the issue by training employers in how to attract, develop and retain women at work. Suggestions include the introduction of a senior gender equality champion at board level and the advertisement of all job vacancies as being open to flexible working.

Companies that publicly pledge the alliance will receive invaluable knowledge, experience and best practice advice from the founding members.

The message is clear. Businesses need to do the right thing and commit to change, all the while plugging those skills gaps and gaining that competitive edge.

The less loyal millennials

In today's job market, millennials are considered to be 'flight risks', always keeping an eye out for the next best thing. But with not much chance of getting on the property ladder any time soon and interest rates being so low that their savings amount to little, why would we expect them to do anything but look for a better-paid position?

For smaller employer organisations in particular, it is hard not to be disheartened when you invest time and money in training up employees that, in no time, leave for a job which they perceive to be better.

So how do we get those Gen Y workers with itchy feet to stay put? In spite of the younger generation's financial pressures, the main reason for millennials walking away from their jobs is that they do not feel sufficiently motivated and rewarded by their bosses.It is now more important than ever for companies to ensure that they have inspirational leaders at the helm ensuring the retention of these young job hoppers.

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