Students warned that CV lies could land them in jail

CV fraud on the rise, says government body


Graduates Wearing Caps and Gowns

The fraud prevention service CIFAS is warning students and graduates that lying on their CVs could land them in prison.

The organisation wants to spread awareness of its Internal Fraud Database, which allows member organisations to record cases of actual or attempted job application fraud - and share them with others, meaning that job applications could be jeopardised years down the line.

Just last week, a survey from translation and transcription jobs site Global Lingo revealed that 63 percent of British job applicants admitted to lying on their CV - about everything from their A-levels to their hobbies.

And students are as bad as the rest of us. A survey last month from the government's Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD) found that 40 percent of students and graduates had exaggerated their grades; 31 percent lied about how much of the course they'd completed; and 11 percent even claimed to have a degree when they hadn't.

And many don't take the risk seriously, seeing it as all part of the game. But, says CIFAS CEO Simon Dukes, "Ignorance isn't an excuse if you're caught out. One young woman whose case features in the publication said she had no idea she had committed a criminal offence after wrongly claiming to have two A-levels and making up false references. She was still jailed for six months."

CIFAS says that prosecutions for employment-related fraud have rocketed by 60 percent over the last year. It's likely to be a sign of desperation, with an average of 85 students now chasing every graduate job. Many - if they don't know the potential consequences - will be tempted to embellish a little.

"We understand that it is a tough job market and that even the most honest graduate may feel a lot of pressure to make his or her CV stand out from the crowd, but it's better to be straightforward and keep your integrity," says Dukes. "Not only do employers value these qualities highly, but they are essential for career success."

While it's easy to think you won't be found out, employers have a range of tools to check up, from the Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD) to specialist firms.

"Complacency can be common in graduates who often hear in the media or from peers that it is standard practice to inflate claims on a CV," says Steve Girdler of global background screening firm HireRight.

"However, employers do check information that's been provided by candidates, especially in graduate roles where there can be little to choose between different candidates."