Fudging your CV... Is it worth it?

Fudging your CV... Is it worth it?

In a development which has shocked the industry Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson was recently made to resign after doubts emerged over a computer science degree he claimed to have in his résumé.

risking career Tweaking CVs is common, but overdoing it can land one in trouble.Interestingly, this is not the first time that such a senior level employee has been caught lying in his curriculum vitae (CV). In most of these cases, reported primarily from the western countries, strict action has been taken against the errant employees irrespective of rank and associated prestige. Had this kind of a case emerged in India would action have been taken on this scale? In fact, in a country like ours where a person is trusted more for his word and background checking seldom done, would falsification of this nature have been discovered at all?

It is very doubtful. Even in a day and age like this, most HR managers in top companies say that they conduct background screening only when doubts emerge. M S Venkatesh, who heads HR at Educomp, one of India’s leading education companies, says, “Honesty and integrity are personal issues. We generally tend to believe a person if he or she claims to have a certain educational qualification but if we discover during an interview that something related to qualification or experience is not aligning, we go for a check.” What do they do when this kind of a misrepresentation is detected? He says, “We don’t hire that person.”

But background screening agencies which have sprung up  in India since the last five or six years, say that just letting employees go is not the right option, action should be taken against such people.

Ajay Trehan, Founder and CEO of AuthBridge, a pioneer in modern background screening in India, says, “Even though this kind of a malpractice is prevalent in all industries, the sunrise sector comprising insurance, IT and retail see it more often.

“The maximum number of CV fudging is seen at the entry level where almost 7-8 per cent of the applicants lie about their education. A lot of students not belonging to that city or place take advantage of the fact that employers may be unfamiliar with their universitites or institutions. Some give copies of fake certificates while many give false information on degrees from obscure international universities as they are difficult to verify.

“At the mid-level, easily 12 per cent of all applicants lie about their employment details like tenure of work, non-existent companies etc.; and finally at the top rank, people fudge details on their previous roles and responsibilities as designations become ill-defined at senior levels.”

Why do people make false claims, despite knowing that they could be jeopardising their careers? A software pro Ajay Malhotra*, says, “The perception is that you cannot bag a job with a regular CV alone. It has to be made presentable. So people make cosmetic changes just to land a job. After all, nobody states the truth, one hundred per cent.”

Others are more adventurous and fake degrees. Shipra Kumar*, who works in the hospitality sector, says, “I did that in my previous job thinking that employers do not always have the time to check each detail in the CV. I was lucky that nobody really noticed it. I did well in my job subsequently and have now even moved to a better post and organisation.”

But not everybody gets as lucky. People do get caught and pay a heavy price. Bipin Tiwari, CMD and CEO, Perspective Media & Communication Pvt Ltd says, “We once discovered that one of our employees had given false addre­ss after a company letter bounced back. Later we realised that he had a criminal record and had therefore hidden his residence details. We immediately sacked him but did not go further as we thought it might turn out to be a waste of time.”

It’s a different matter that Ajay advises that such cases should not be taken lightly. “There are no specific laws in India to deal with such people but they can definitely be sued for forgery and breach of trust, and companies must do that. If you just let them go, they will con some other company with the same false details. If more and more companies keep this in mind, such malpractices can be largely controlled.”

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