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Friday, 5 November 2010

Low down dirty job seekers: Are bankers just a bunch of CV cheats?

Ananya Mukherjee

A candidate was pitching himself as an experienced risk management professional, but there was something a little odd about his CV, according to a recruiter, who asked not to be named. Some of the terminology he had used made little sense.

The recruitment consultant, in doubt, dug deeper into his background and when probed, the candidate admitted he had not even worked for two of the companies listed on his resume.

While a bit of CV “creativity” may not always prove catastrophic for candidates, downright dishonesty is becoming a growing concern for recruiters and employers.

According to a recent report from Hudson, 46 per cent of employers in Hong Kong’s banking and financial services sector have come across candidates being untruthful about their experience and backgrounds in their resumes. That’s the highest level of CV deceit of any industry in the territory (bankers are much worse than lawyers).

Over in supposedly squeaky-clean Singapore, the percentage of corrupt banking CVs stands at a lower, but still significant, 37 per cent.

Resume falsification in Singapore and Hong tends to occur more frequently for relatively junior banking jobs, says the survey, because inexperienced candidates often feel compelled to claim they have solid track records as they scramble for promotions.

By far the most common type of CV dishonesty in both banking centres relates to responsibilities and achievements. Other key areas include skill sets/specific job knowledge and remuneration packages.

Degrees escape the deceit

Interestingly, false claims have little to do with academic qualifications. “As people, particularly Gen Y, become more educated, informed and savvy about the interview process, and how to sell themselves on paper, they tend to be more creative and often ‘bend’ the truth with regards to their level of experience, rather than lying about their qualification,” says Arran Huddleston, general manager, Randstad Singapore.

Fleshing out candidates’ true experience levels depends on a thorough recruitment and interview process, including compliance, fraud and legal inspections, and sanctioning checks at a senior level.

Although reference checks are not as reliable as background ones, they can add value. “By speaking with a candidate’s former employer, you can get a good indication of on-the-job experience, attitude and overall performance. This can easily be talked up in a resume and needs to be substantiated if it is going to be taken seriously,” says Craig Brewer, director, Hudson Singapore.

Most importantly, it is critical to remember that the banking and finance industry in Singapore is relatively small. “Clients talk and interviewers often know the candidate’s last boss, so stretching the truth is at times blatantly obvious, and not great for future career moves,” adds Huddleston.

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