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Australian Recruiters Reveal The Most Outrageous Lies Spotted On Job Applications

As Donald Trump deals with a top employee who lied on her resume, Australian recruitment experts have revealed the worst porky-pies they’ve spotted on job applications and how they catch people out.

On Tuesday it emerged that a top official in the Trump administration added more than a sprinkle of embellishment to her CV.

Mina Chang was found to have flaunted a Harvard education that was actually only a seven-week course in 2016; as well as inventing herself a role on a United Nations panel and exaggerated the scope of her nonprofit's work.

According to the NBC News investigation, there are also allegations she created a fake Time magazine cover with her face on it and upheld the lie in a media interview when asked about it.

Time magazine told NBC News this is not one of their covers.

It has many commentators asking how the 35-year-old can hold a top position at the State Department, and whether she was appropriately vetted.

But it seems Chang isn't alone when it comes to people telling porky-pies on their CVs.

It’s so common in the U.S. where 85 per cent of bosses reported having uncovered lying on job applications. And according to HireRight's 2017 employment screening benchmark report, that was up from just 66 percent five years prior.

In 2018, a resume-checking group found that a third of jobseekers fake their education background, mostly by inflating their school achievements. One in 10 job seekers simply made up a degree. The second worst offence, according to the TopResume survey, was concealing a criminal record.

THOSE MOST LIKELY TO LIE

"There is an encouragement with younger people to fudge the edges a little bit ... regrettably, that's part of what a personal brand is and the culture around social media and representing yourself strongly," Peter Wilson, Chair of the Australian Human Resources Institute told 10 daily. 

Wilson has also studied the different ways men and women perceive their ability to land a job. It is men who are more likely to apply, even when their skills don't stack up.

"There's no doubt there's what I call the inverse 80-20 ratio," he said.

"80 per cent of men will apply for the job where they only have 20 per cent of the formal requirements. But only 20 per cent of women will apply yet they will meet 80 per cent of requirements," he said.

Wilson said young people tend to embellish on their CVs the most. Image: Getty

In order to fill that shortfall, Wilson said candidates should back themselves and their potential rather than lie about the lack of skills, experience or education.

HR specialist Yvonne Kelly told 10 daily, that in her experience, it also more likely to be 28-35-year-olds who lie on their resumes.

Being dishonest with references is another common thing picked up by recruiters.

"We get a lot of people putting their boyfriends or girlfriends as a referee. We've even had a case and we called a referee and the applicant has pretended to be that person's manager but when we have emailed that manager they tell us 'I have never spoken to you I don't know who you are,'"  she said.

Kelly also works to support career plans for refugees and people from non-English speaking backgrounds. She said they are less likely to put themselves forward, let alone embellish.

"They tend to lack the confidence to feel they can compete for those higher-level roles, they tend to wait for a role to come to them rather than be proactive and feel they have the ability to fulfil the role," she said.

Kelly said candidates with a refugee or non-English speaking background won't often apply for senior roles. Image: Getty Images
IT'S EASY TO GET CAUGHT

Kelly said there are many recruiters companies turn to who have direct relationships and access to university databases in order to fact-check qualifications.

"Now there's also a lot of artificial intelligence in the recruitment process and with social media, there is a lot of ways to find out if it's untrue," Kelly said.

She said the different checks and balances make the recruitment process longer and more complex.

"But that's been born out of the fact there has been a lot of people that do lie," she said.

For Wilson, the lie that surprised him the most was when he'd check with a university about a person's qualifications only to discover they had never  been enrolled there.

"These people have claimed to have a degree and in some cases also a postgraduate degree but they were nowhere to be found on their student records," he said.

IS IT EVER OK TO LIE? 

Kelly said she very regularly sees people lying about their job titles, the duration of their time in particular jobs and achievements in that role.

While her main message is to be transparent, she said there may be a little bit of wriggle room with job titles.

"This is because many companies have different ways of describing the same role," she said.

But Wilson's advice is "simply don't lie."

"You will get found out and there can be civil and criminal consequences," he said, adding lying about skills has put others in danger or impacts their well-being.

Contact alattouf@networkten.com.au