How should HR handle people who lie on resumes?

HRD talks to partner at Ashurst Trent Sebbens about how HR should react if an employee is not who they say they are

How should HR handle people who lie on resumes?

While potential employees may be tempted to concoct their past experience on their resumes, there are steps employers can take to minimise the risk of misrepresentations being made during recruitment.

For starters, Trent Sebbens, partner at Ashurst, told HRD that it’s important to undertake comprehensive background checks during the recruitment process.

This can include education and past employment references, criminal history, credit and financial history, health checks and medical screening, and social media and internet checks (as relevant to the employment and role).

“Background checks can often be done simply by the old fashioned method of ringing former employers to determine the veracity of claims that individuals have made regarding what their job title was and what their level of responsibility was,” said Sebbens.

“Quite often it is the nature of the person’s responsibility or their job title itself which has been found to be embellished.”

Sebbens added that it’s also important to ensure that what the candidate has put in writing corresponds with what they say in the interview.

Moreover, if a recruitment agency is used, the employer should ensure that the agency fully understands the nature and requirements of the role, does not "oversell" the position, and keeps accurate records.

So what can employers do to protect their interests if misrepresentations are uncovered during employment?

Sebbens told HRD that it is worthwhile at the time of engaging in the employment contract to build in some protections.

That should include a warranty that the person is suitably qualified, skilled and competent to perform the role for which they have been engaged.

Secondly, that they have the relevant registrations or other licenses if the job requires that.

“Thirdly, perhaps more generally but also critically, a general warranty that the information that they have provided to the employer in the pre-employment process about their experience and skills is correct,” said Sebbens.

“If that warranty is then breached then obviously there are steps that can be taken by the employer, including bringing the employment to an end for breach of the warranty within the contract.”


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