Almost 100,000 job applicants have lied about qualifications 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 of UK-based HR professionals do not always check that applicant’s qualifications are valid.

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

Qualification checks also vary between companies. Nearly a third of organisations 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 qualifications 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 if a job applicant outright lies about qualifications 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.

Organisations 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 organisations do not routinely check the qualifications 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 percent of HR professionals believe you should check references and just under half 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 candidate’s 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.”






Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.