Why you should be truthful about your qualifications

By Neil Patrick

As many as one third of job applicants admit to lying on their job applications. But if they got away with it before, it’s about to get a whole lot harder.

A couple of weeks ago I posted here about the issue of people being ‘liberal’ in how they presented themselves on their LinkedIn profiles. It’s a dumb move and one which can lead to disastrous outcomes for employees and employers alike.

While I was researching for that post, I came across some interesting news that alleged that ‘degree fraud’ in the UK had been found to be most prevalent amongst older job applicants.

The types of fraud I refer to range from non-existent qualifications in some cases through doctored certificates to show higher grades to awards from non-existent academic institutions.

I had assumed (wrongly as it turns out) that it was simple for an employer to verify an applicant’s qualifications through a central database.

Not so.

Amazingly until now there has been no central database of information from academic institutions that allows simple checks to be made.

But that is all changing. The Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD) is intended as the first port of call for any individuals or organisations seeking degree verification. It can be used to check that a UK higher education provider existed and was approved by the UK government at a given date. It provides contact details to direct the user to the appropriate records office for their query.

It is particularly useful for employers and postgraduate course providers wanting to verify degree results, and for graduates to request transcripts and replacement certificates.

HEDD is funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to address these issues and direct those seeking information to the correct body to answer their query. HEDD is managed by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU) on behalf of Universities UK and Guild HE.

I contacted Jayne Rowley, Director of Business Services at HEDD as I was keen to know more. Jayne told me that:

“80% of major graduate recruiters rely on CVs and degree certificates. Only 20% actually check with the issuing university. For smaller businesses we think it’s even worse. Our office wall is a rogue’s gallery of fake or doctored certificates and we list more than 140 bogus universities on the university look up service on the website”.

When HEDD did their original research prior to the service being was set up, they questioned employers about why they didn’t check. The main reasons cited were that they weren’t aware that fraud was a big problem and that there was no easy central way to make the checks.

Jayne said, “Every HR survey we’ve seen shows that about 1/3 of people admit to lying on job applications and the most common lie is about qualifications”.

Clearly this is a massive problem. But according to Jayne, the highest incidence of degree fraud occurs amongst older applicants:

“Even though there are many more enquiries about recent graduates, there are more 'errors' in HEDD enquiries about older graduates and it is disproportionate to the number of enquiries when compared to the checks on recent graduates.

We also carry out research with employers about their verification practices. The conclusions we draw on older people not getting checked are because they are assumed to have been checked earlier in their career, or because the focus is on their experience”.

So the situation is clear. If you are ever tempted to lie about your qualifications, don’t even consider it; you will get found out. The loopholes that previously existed are closing fast. Play to your strengths, invest your time and efforts in your interview skills instead and win fair and square.

And if you are an employer or HR person hiring in the UK, I recommend you check out the HEDD service. Here’s the link: https://www.hedd.ac.uk/aboutHedd.htm

I’d like to thank Jayne Rowley and her team at HEDD for talking to me and wish them well in their important work.

No comments:

Post a Comment