How to spot CV fraud

Christian Madsen

Written by Christian Madsen

Managing Director of 11 Recruitment

CV fraud is common

CV fraud in Australia and New Zealand is very common. In fact, 25% of all candidates have discrepancies in their job applications according to research conducted by First Advantage. This figure is further backed by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Let's take a look at the different types of candidate discrepancies you may come across.

  • 65% relate to the candidate’s employment history.
  • 20% relate to education, such as qualifications or institution attended.
  • 15% are database differences and criminal and financial fibs.

Reference checks are an important part of the recruitment process and the more that are done, the better the outcome. This is because:

  • Employers who conduct six reference checks are 12 times more likely to uncover CV fraud compared to those who only conduct two.
  • Specifically, research showed 31% of the time a discrepancy was revealed when six (or more) checks were done, versus 4% when only one or two checks were conducted.

Watch out for discrepancies

I am a recruiter and have been in the industry for more than 25 years. In my experience, employers need to be careful when they engage agencies that are paid on a contingency basis.

Consultants at contingency agencies will typically be working on 10-20 vacancies at any given time, with a filling ratio of just 20%. They will not usually participate in any interviews and will be hesitant to share negative observations. This is due to a conflict of interest - the consultant won't want to say anything that discounts the candidate, as this will result in the agency not being paid, and them not receiving a substantial personal commission.

I always advise employers to undertake reference checks themselves or to hire a consultant on an hourly rate or retained basis. This will minimise the conflict of interest, as the consultant will not receive a personal commission on the placement.

I was recently sourcing a CEO vacancy and spent hours researching the final candidate and the referees he had provided. That research revealed the direct supervisor of his previous two positions had been his wife. While they had different surnames, he did report to her.

Furthermore, the other three referees had neither supervised nor worked with him from what I could see. It took some serious work to flush this out, but it was worth it. Here is why.

Is CV fraud illegal?

According to University of New South Wales, lying on your CV could be considered a crime, depending on how significant the lies are and what the result is.

According to Alex Steel, professor at UNSW, "There are crimes of fraud and forgery, and sometimes inaccuracies in a CV or reference could amount to either.

"Additionally, the inaccuracies might mean the tort of deceit has occurred and leave the person liable for damages. It might also be a breach of a term of an employment contract and lead to termination of employment.

"But again, all of these depend on the actual nature of the inaccuracy, the intentions of the person, and the relevant area of law".

In terms of the difference between subjective vs. fraudulent claims, Steel states "You are entitled to cast your personality and experience in the best possible light, but the main rule is that the underlying claim can’t be untrue.

"If there is something that an employer needs to know or has a right to know, you shouldn’t omit it either".

How to spot CV fraud | Is CV fraud illegal?

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Christian Madsen

What are your thoughts?

I'd love to have a conversation with you about this topic - please leave a comment below if you have any thoughts or opinions 🙂

Christian Madsen

Managing Director of 11 Recruitment

  • An interesting read. With AI now utilised in CV screening in a lot of recruitment portals, I agree it becomes even more important for the human eyes and touch when it comes to having at least a cursory look at the CV and not just rely on algorithms to screen buzzwords. As for application letters, I read them to see if the person can string two sentences together and can spell (assuming they wrote it). The number of people who don’t even know how to use spell checker (for Australian English) is a disgrace at senior levels. Services for CV checking should be an important part of the recruitment tool to verify qualifications, unfortunately, businesses often balk at the cost.

    • Christian Madsen says:

      Hi Tess, thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I’m glad you found the article interesting. As for proofreading, I completely agree with you. We often receive applications that contain basic spelling and grammatical errors that reflect poorly on the candidate. I generally recommend using Grammarly to edit – it tends to pick up more issues than the basic Word spelling and grammar check tool.

  • Faisal Hussain says:

    Hi Christian,

    Thanks for producing such an informative article. It will certainly help Risks and Control professionals to look into the probabilities of CV frauds.


    • Christian Madsen says:

      Thanks Faisal, I’m glad to hear you found it useful 🙂

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