Elon Musk reviews each employee's résumé

Cheating on your application : I am superman

A job applicant wanted to conceal an employer in his résumé where he was only briefly employed. Another tried to cover up an unemployment gap in their professional career. And the third job candidate had just added a whole page of self-praise to his last job reference with Photoshop.

Manipulated CVs and references from three potential job candidates in just one month - HR consultant Renate Schuh-Eder from Baldham near Munich no longer finds that normal.

“The forgeries in application documents are increasing,” she states. Some applicants even deal with official documents such as job and university certificates afterwards in order to look better and improve their chances of a personal interview. Particularly worrying: Schuh-Eder places engineers in specialist and management positions - a professional group that is both conscientious and in great demand on the job market, and therefore does not need to cheat.

What sounds like a subjective impression of the edge of the job market takes on a different dimension if you ask Manfred Lotze on the subject of "fudged application documents". The head of the Kocks detective agency in Düsseldorf specializes in checking job applicants on behalf of employers.

It underpins the observation of the Bavarian personnel consultant with figures: after checking around 5000 applications for truthfulness and completeness, he came to the conclusion years ago that an average of one third of the applications are objectionable. The allegations range from whitewashing to forgery of documents and the presumption of titles. “This proportion is likely to have increased in the age of the Internet and Photoshop,” he now suspects.

Alleged experts give tips on how to cheat

Because on the Internet, self-appointed specialists are already giving tips on how to tune CVs and thus avoid unpleasant inquiries from HR managers. "Alleged experts suggest that this fraud is common, even necessary in order to assert oneself in the applicants' shark tank," says HR consultant Renate Schuh-Eder.

Cheating is evidently carried out at every hierarchical level and in every industry, regardless of whether it is a new position with a corporation or a medium-sized company. However, more men than women are found out, and there are apparently two main areas of cheating in professional life. Lotzes evaluations show: A particularly large number of people cheat between the ages of 25 and 34, the second noticeable group are employees in their mid-forties. The detective interprets it as follows: “Young professionals want to advance particularly quickly, and in their mid-forties there should be a significant leap in salary and professionally. The older ones are often caught cheating on titles. ”According to Lotze, vanity and a desire for recognition are the reason for this.

And so the Düsseldorf detective repeatedly comes across titles from foreign educational institutions whose qualifications are not recognized in Germany or addresses in Germany and abroad that are notorious for their trade in doctoral and professorial titles. Particularly bold, however, was a job applicant who simply adorned himself with the doctorate of a namesake and insisted that no one would notice this hoax - in the age of Google, downright naive.

Marcus Lentz from the business detective agency of the same name also knows from his day-to-day investigations how broad the spectrum of frauds is: “We have come across very brazen lies. In one case, an applicant for managing director stated that he would spend several months in New York as a project manager. In fact, he had spent that time in a correctional facility for fraud. "

Whitewashing is quickly noticed

There is whitewash that immediately catches the eye. Renate Schuh-Eder recently had the case that a candidate subsequently upgraded his job reference, but unfortunately used a second font for the new passages. And detective Lotze immediately became suspicious when an internationally experienced manager presented all certificates of his alleged different domestic and foreign ex-employers on paper with the same watermark.

Other candidates are more cautious. They simply leave out certain dates on the résumé or extend periods by a few months to smooth out. "Such small false statements are more difficult to recognize and usually only reveal themselves through contradictions in personal conversations or in connection with official certificates," says Schuh-Eder.

And sometimes it is simply a coincidence when false statements come to light. But in every industry there is a microcosm in which you know each other and talk about each other. Here candidates with coiffed documents put themselves on thin ice. Karsten Turck, who has been the HR manager of large US companies in Germany for the past 15 years, knows the reaction to a questionable job change: "What, you hired him as a director, he was only a very small light with us."

Anyone who cheats risks not only being found, but also being expelled from the employer afterwards. And anyone who manipulates certificates is even liable to prosecution for forging documents, which can be punished with up to five years or fines. Even trying is a criminal offense.

Those who falsify often do not take it too seriously when it comes to corruption

Under no circumstances should personnel managers turn a blind eye if an applicant or even an employee is caught subsequently tuning the application documents. Karsten Turck knows from personal experience, "It causes a massive loss of trust - the employer cannot get rid of the suspicion that the person concerned is not taking it exactly in other areas".

HR managers and bosses who are too lax about hiring can be far more concerned. This is also shown by the analyzes by the Kocks detective agency. Because around 70 percent of those executives who are corrupt or reveal trade secrets have already cheated when applying.

This was the result of the subsequent analysis of the application documents from those who later, for example, received high brokerage premiums as top buyers from suppliers or who took price lists or construction plans with them when switching to the competition.

Expert Lotze: "All alarm signals are on, but they are often ignored." Often times, this is because HR managers are clearly overloaded in view of the flood of applicants who are no longer just on paper, but also via a wide variety of digital channels are.

But wrong appointments are expensive. They not only cost money, but also reputation. So in the USA they go further. The family environment of a candidate is also scrutinized by specialists. Lotze: "A financial expert who has a husband with large debts, for example, doesn't even get a job as an accountant in America." A criminal family member can also become an exclusion criterion when hiring.

It's different in Germany. Data protection regulations set limits here. For example, a job applicant must consent in writing to the check of his or her environment. Detective Lotze knows: between five and seven percent then withdraw their application immediately.

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