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September 11, 2016

Almost 100,000 job applicants have lied about their certifications in the past three years as they attempt to secure a job - and many are getting away with it as employers fail to check credentials before offering a contract, according to a new survey*.

The Axelos study found that almost half (48%) of UK-based HR professionals do not always check that applicants' certifications are valid.

Many organizations only find out members of staff have lied on their application after they have started work. 14% of HR professionals said they had dealt with at least five incidences within the last three years of employees not holding the certifications they had claimed - the equivalent of around 100,000** job seekers.

Certification checks also vary between companies. Nearly a third (30%) of organizations think checks can be waived if the candidate has previous experience in the role they are applying for. One in ten will waive checks if the candidate has been recommended by someone senior in the business.

Exaggerating certifications such as degree results or modules can have serious repercussions - 37% of survey respondents said they would dismiss an employee if they discovered qualification results had been exaggerated. This increases to over half (54%) if a job applicant outright lies about certifications they do not hold and is later found out.

More than half (53%) of HR professionals said that poor performance was the most significant risk from under-qualified staff. Reputational impact was the second most important issue with more than one quarter (26%) of those surveyed listing it as their chief concern about hiring someone not properly qualified.

Organizations also face significant costs if they have to find a new recruit. Nearly 40% of companies had spent more than £10,000 in the last three years rehiring staff after employing someone who wasn’t properly qualified, with 9% of respondents said they had spent more than £40,000.

John O’Brien, head of membership at Axelos, said: “In an increasingly competitive jobs market, there are clearly many people who are willing to exaggerate or lie to win that much sought-after role. So it’s hard to believe so many organizations do not routinely check the certifications of job applicants.

“Lies can quickly get out of hand – it can soon become apparent that the individual is having difficulty meeting the expectations set out in the new position. While the employee could face their contract being terminated, the employer has a lot to lose, both financially and in terms of its reputation.”

The survey also revealed that before employing someone new, 62% of HR professionals believe you should check references and just under half (47%) think you should check a candidate’s qualifications. Other concerns like salary expectations and a candidate’s social media accounts were significantly less important to respondents (9% and 6% respectively).

John added: “Digital badges are a great way of demonstrating qualifications on networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter as well as on candidates' CVs which are generally shared digitally these days. Employers and others with whom the badge is shared can instantly verify the skills and competencies of badge holders.”

Axelos has partnered with Pearson’s badging service, Acclaim, to deliver an innovative solution to help organizations verify their candidates’ credentials through the use of digital badges. Available through the Axelos Membership programme to individuals who hold ITIL®, PRINCE2® or MSP® certificates, these digital badges can only be awarded following the successful completion of CPD activities.

Clarke Porter, vice president of credential management for Pearson VUE, said: “Acclaim's digital badging allows recruiters, and hiring managers to quickly and easily verify candidate credentials up-front, improving the efficiency of the recruiting process and reducing the risk of a bad hire.”

* The research was conducted in July 2016 with 500 UK-based HR professionals across the public and private sector.
** ONS data: 138,000 HR managers and directors in the UK. 14% have dealt with at least five incidences of employees not holding the qualifications they had claimed in the last three years