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Fake CV? Chances are your company will catch you out

Don't be 'creative' when writing your resume. Chances are your company will catch you out.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Jan 08, 2012, 03.11 AM IST
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Fake CV? Chances are your company will catch you out
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Did you say deception? It is not even a lie, not in the lowly, how-can-you-do-this sort of way. Call it an exaggeration, if you must — the stretched truth that boosts your resumé. So what if you forget the ‘assistant’ in your designation and just write manager or add a few thousands to your current pay. Or extend a job tenure to cover three months of vegetating before the TV — even Steve Jobs needed his psychedelic breaks, didn’t he?

Fudging CVs is almost par for the course across the world. The justification: no harm’s done, right? Human resource departments disagree. They are paying for a person with specific qualifications and experience. So they may boot you out if a background check throws up major lies in your resumé. And the trend has picked up in corporate India.

“It is becoming more difficult for people to blatantly lie on their resumés as more companies are opting for background checks. The number of such cases being detected is on the rise,” says Shiv Agrawal, CEO, ABC Consultants, a recruitments service provider. The number of companies outsourcing background verification to consultants has seen about 50% spike since 2007. The trend started with MNCs and was copied by their vendors. Now, large Indian companies follow suit.

Liar’s Code

Fake CV? Chances are your company will catch you out


So what do employees lie about? “Exaggeration not counting employment gaps, makes 50-60% of incorrect CVs,” says Agrawal. The most common inaccuracies are on pay, designation and responsibilities. Very few lie about age, name, address or education. It is easier to misrepresent CVs in loosely networked sectors like IT, than sectors like FMCG where employers are very co-operative about swapping information.

Fake CV? Chances are your company will catch you out


“The average number of negative background checks is 33% of all resumés. The IT industry has the highest negative rate with the number closer to 40%. Most resumés exaggerate the number of skills/projects across technologies,” says Devashish Chakravarty, CEO of Quetzal, an HR solutions company.

Fake CV? Chances are your company will catch you out
The lies are usually geared to meet the job requirement. For instance, a courier delivery boy may lie about his address to show that he can deliver faster to a particular area but a manager exaggerates leadership responsibilities. The seriousness of the lie also depends on the level of seniority. Senior people are more likely to fabricate education details and twisting dates of old employment as they may not be easily verified.

But it is not easy to cheat employers anymore. They thoroughly screen applicants after selection and make them sign forms that allows the employment to be revoked if the information turns out to be false. The highest rated checks depends on the company and job profile. But most organisations insist on verification of past employment, references, education, identity and criminal record.

Agents of the background verification company visit schools, check the local police station history and write to HRs of companies. The reference check is the only one made before a hiring process.

Employer Smarts

According to Chakravarty, a background is declared negative if a major mistake is detected. A minor error or incorrect data that is likely to have a reasonable explanation, makes a ‘discrepant’ CV. For instance, calling a Rs 99,900 salary as Rs 1 lakh is discrepant. But if it turns out to be Rs 75,000, the CV is negative, unless the HR of the previous company has missed some components of the package.

But even when a negative report goes in, the HR needn’t take immediate action. Usually, it asks the employee for an explanation. Some genuine errors could be typos, additional responsibilities that the database doesn’t cover, etc. Even if a deliberate lie is caught, no legal action is taken as there is no damage to the company. However, recruiters say they fire such employees immediately.

So don’t push your luck. A little exaggeration can become a big blot on your career. Even if you are not caught the first time, there is no guarantee you’ll always miss the net. A headhunter recalls a case when an Indian CFO was sacked by the third company he was due to join on the basis of a wrong address. Why live in this fear?

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