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Crooked CV - Bosses Rarely Check Qualifications Closely

By Thorsten Wiese     Mar 7, 2001 in Business
BONN (dpa) - Competition in the job marketplace is becoming more intense by the day, and for many vacancies hundreds of people apply.

A growing number of applicants are unwilling to rely on having the right credentials or simple good luck: According to a study in Germany, a third of all job applications are manipulated.

Kocks private detective organisation in the central city of Duesseldorf studied 5,000 sets of job application documents for what it says is a representative study.

"Its all there, from curricula vitae that gloss over the awkward bits through to forged references and assessment reports. Anything that can be altered with a pair of scissors, some glue and a photocopying machine, is being altered," said Manfred Lotze, a security advisor in the financial fraud section of the organisation.

Many applicants lie about their qualifications, forge references or write letters on stolen letterheads. Some hopefuls have been known to list academic articles by other people under their own name and invent jobs to fill "awkward" gaps in their career. For periods of unemployment many substitute the word "freelance".

Lotze says such subterfuge can cause a company serious financial damage. "Seventy per cent of employees who commit offences at work turn out to have manipulated their job applications," said Lotze.

Despite the risk, companies seldom act to prevent the con merchants. We don't generally check qualifications," said Tim Ackermann who recruits graduates at Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt. "We rely on our employees although when there are doubts on taking on somebody we ask to see the original documents."

Other large concerns tend to adopt the same course. At electrotechnical giant Siemens in Munich, personnel managers do not as a rule demand originals of certificates and citations.

"We rely on the intuition of the person carrying out the interview. An experienced personnel manager can tell straight away if someone is telling lies about his biography," said Peter Gottal, press spokesman at Siemens.

"Companies don't like talking about crime," said Michael Sobik of the Hanse-Merkur insurance company in Hamburg. He has just edited a new guide for managers on employment law. Sobik believes firms are worried about "losing face" if their names are publically associated with forged applications.

"In branches of the industry where applications by email are the rule, forgery is easy," said Sobik.

The losers are the applicants with the genuine qualifications. The expert advises recruitment managers to insist on seeing original papers and to ask pointed questions about gaps in an applicant's career. Asking if references can be checked is another way of gauging an applicant.

"If someone has got something to hide that will make him nervous," said Sobik.

One reason for the increase in fraudulent applications is growing pressure in the job market. Many companies formulate their job ads in such a way that candidates feel they cannot possibly make the grade.

"Applicants are supposed to have not only studied at university but must have had extensive experience, be no older than 25 and show they have lived and worked abroad," said professor Meyer-Althoff, head of a working group on studying and work at Hamburg University.

Angelika Fuchs, who has written a book on applying for jobs properly, advises aspirants not to put themselves under too much pressure. "Basically applicants should be honest. In an interview situation they should project their own personality and not that of someone else.

"Someone who tells a lie will get found out within a few weeks because he or she is not suitable for the work," said Hartmuth Posner, head of personnel at Lufthansa in Frankfurt. He adds that a person's application portfolio is merely an ticket to an interview.

"These days the impression a person leaves behind is what decides whether he is taken on or not," said Posner.
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