Students have been threatened with jail for embellishing their CVs amid growing concerns that graduates may be tempted to tell “white lies” to get ahead in the jobs market.
Fraud prevention officers have sent a new guide to every university in the country warning students of the consequences of inflating their degree grade, doctoring their employment history or making up personal references.
Some students have been jailed for six months for lying on job application forms, it emerged, but the offence carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in the most serious cases.
The disclosure came as figures showed a sharp rise in employment-related fraud, with prosecutions soaring by almost 60 per cent in just 12 months.
According to CIFAS, the UK fraud prevention service, 324 people were prosecuted in 2013 for all forms of fraudulent applications, including submitting false paperwork and withholding information. This compared with just 205 a year earlier.
It comes amid growing competition between university leavers for top jobs following a rise in the undergraduate population combined with an employment squeeze during the economic crisis.
A study last year showed that an average of 85 students were competing for every graduate job, with numbers rising as high as 200 in some industry sectors.
But Simon Dukes, chief executive of CIFAS, cautioned students against embellishing their CVs, saying “ignorance isn’t an excuse if you get caught out”.
> Although once you’ve got that job in politics, you can be as ignorant as you like. Ask Iain Duncan Smith, Esther McVile, etc…
Speaking as hundreds of thousands of students prepare to graduate from university, Helen Kempster, consultant for the University of London’s Careers Group, said: “It can be tempting to tell a ‘white lie’ but this leaflet makes students aware that there can be serious legal repercussions.”
The guide – Don’t finish your career before it starts – says that making minor changes to CVs such as inflating grades and making up extra-curricular activities can be classed as “fraud by false representation“. It is punishable with a maximum 10-year prison sentence under the Fraud Act 2006.
The guide says one former student was jailed for 12 weeks after lying about his qualifications when applying for a job as a temporary teacher. He claimed to hold a master’s degree and submitted a certificate to the school, but his university confirmed he had never been awarded the qualification. He later admitted to buying it online.
In another case, a woman was jailed for six months after falsely claiming to have two A-levels and making up references.
The guide – the first in a series intended to educate young people about fraud – says that cases referred to CIFAS lie on file for six years, meaning applicants are flagged up if they attempt to apply for other jobs.
In the document, students are told: “Your dream job asks for a 2:1, but you’ve got a 2:2 – so you just make a little change on your CV. You’re worried you don’t have enough work experience – so you pretend your summer of trekking through Nepal was actually spent working at a local solicitor’s firm.
“After all, no one really checks, right? It’s just a little white lie, right? Wrong. It’s fraud.”
Two years ago, the careers service Graduate Prospects launched a new degree verification service to allow employers to easy check grades following claims that ex-students are deliberately lying on CVs and inflating their qualifications.
> Interesting – and what about us poor mugs in the real world ? We get sent to ’employability‘ schemes who aren’t at all shy about changing our CVs for us.
One I did under New Deal actually combined two jobs I’d done (for two different employers) into one, on the grounds that it “looked better“, and for an encore gave me a couple of hobbies I don’t have.
Anothe place changed my date of birth… although as they only made me 6 days younger it was probably a misprint rather than attempted fraud.
Of course, both of these CVs were consigned to the bin the moment I walked out the door. But if I had sent them out, would I be committing fraud ?
And who’d take the rap if I was ? Me or the poverty pimps that changed the information ?
I think I can guess the answer to that…
Source – The Telegraph, 02 July 2014