The perils of relying on CVs in recruitment

  • Recruitment
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CV’s have been used in recruitment for many years and many employers ask candidates to submit their CV when applying for vacant positions within their company.

However the unfortunate situation can arise where a CV appears to contain inaccurate information. Is it too late to take action even if the employer has only made this discovery once the individual has become an employee? No it’s not too late but this does highlight potential problems when relying too heavily on CV’s during recruitment.

CV’s serve one purpose; they aim to show the candidates experience and qualifications in the best possible light. Hence the tendency to embellish or conveniently omit certain information (such as the reason for leaving their last place of work) is all too tempting.

Therefore employers are in a much stronger position if they ask candidates to complete standard applications forms. This gives the employer greater control over the information they receive and it also ensures that all candidates are being shortlisted based on the same information. It also has the added advantage of speeding up the shortlisting process by ensuring that all the information you require is set out in the same order and format.

However this doesn’t eliminate the risk of candidates being untruthful when completing an application form, so how can an employer address this?

Firstly in an application form an employee will sign to state that the information provided is true and accurate, a similar statement can be signed by an employee submitting their CV. For example:

I confirm that the above information is complete and correct and that any untrue or misleading information will give my employer the right to terminate any employment contract offered.
Example- you have advertised and recruited for a Manager. The job advertisement along with your job description and person specification clearly states that managerial experience is an essential requirement. You have appointed the relevant candidate and it has transpired that they have never worked in a managerial position. They have stated on their CV or application form that their last position held was at managerial level when it was not.

What can be done?

The candidate has technically provided ‘untrue and misleading information’ in order to obtain advantage over other candidates and this would certainly give rise to formal disciplinary action being taken. However it will depend on the nature of the role, the responsibilities the role carries and how long the individual has been employed, as to the overall outcome.

In circumstances such as this there has been a clear attempt to mislead the employer and the result is an employee in a role that they are not capable or qualified to carry out. If the employee has been employed for less than one year (or less than two years if employed on or after 6th April 2012) then the employer has the option to dismiss following formal action under the capability/ dismissal procedure.

If the employee has longer service then a dismissal purely on the grounds of dishonesty may not be sufficient, instead it will also depend on the seriousness of the embellishment/inaccuracy and the relevance to the role as to the seriousness and what action can be taken.

For example, if the role involved specific experience and qualifications regarding health and safety, the implications should something go wrong could be extremely serious. If the role requires accountancy responsibilities the employer could incur financial irregularities and losses as a result of the individual not having the appropriate qualifications and experience.

In summary, each case will depend on the nature of the role; the amount of time the employee has been in post, the relevance and significance of the embellishment and whether it was made clear to the individual at recruitment stage that any inaccuracies may lead to the termination of employment or withdrawal of the offer.

Finally recruitment can be very costly for businesses so prevention is always better than cure. In order to reduce the risks to your organisation here are some top tips:

  • If you allow CV’s to be submitted that is fine but ensure candidates complete application forms as well, or do away with CV’s altogether
  • Ensure that job descriptions and person specifications are explicit in terms of qualifications and experience required. If particular skills, experience or qualifications are essential then ensure that this is clear to candidates.
  • Be vigilant when checking employment references and qualification certificates
  • Make conditional offers of employment or try and delay start dates until all pre-employment checks are completed
  • Ensure application forms contain a declaration that the candidate is required to sign verifying that the information they have provided is true and accurate
  • Do not accept any application forms that do not contain a signature


Finally remember that Peninsula can provide advice on all employment matters including recruitment. We can look over intended job advertisements, assist you in ensuring that proposed interview questions don’t fall foul of the Equality Act and we can also assist you should you uncover poor references or alleged falsification of past employment history and qualifications.

For any further clarification, please call our 24 Hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.

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