Social media: the new CV

Read time 4min 20sec

Tech-savvy HR practitioners and recruitment consultants are increasingly turning to social media for information on candidates, as inaccurate CVs have become a persistent problem for them.

So says Felix Erken, MD of classified adverts publisher, Junk Mail. "The problem has always been with us, but it's getting worse," says Erken.

"Every position attracts a flood of no-hope applications from desperate people who're trying everything, regardless of what they're qualified for. And even the applicants who do appear to be qualified are quite likely to be lying - a recent survey found that almost a third of people had lied on or exaggerated their CVs."

He explains that this not only makes it difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff, it also discourages employers from advertising positions in the first place.

According to a study recently conducted by international recruitment Web site Staffbay.com, a fifth of job hunters lie on their CVs to get a new job. The site adds that the "shocking" survey of 25 000 people found almost 20% would lie on their CVs if it meant they could impress a future boss.

Tony Wilmot, co-founder of Staffbay, says: "Obviously, these figures are shocking, but with as many as 80 people chasing the same job, it's hardly surprising that some jobseekers are prepared to bend the rules a little to enter the world of work."

Ernie Hipner, business development director for recruitment at CareerWeb, says generally candidates inflate their experience in certain areas by about 20%. "Recruiters can definitely use social media networks to check employees' details before hiring. In our digital age, it has become easier to source vital information about individuals, by using the Internet. You can quickly build a picture of the individuals achievements, background etc," he says.

Hipner also believes that there is always warning signs in inflated CVs. Experience, salary and certifications all need to follow a timeline and match-up, he explains. "More companies are using questionnaires in the application process and, from the results, can judge whether they wish to contact the candidate to take it to the next level of a telephone call or interview.

"Generally, those candidates that are fake will not go through the trouble of completing a questionnaire.

Meanwhile, Erken says getting too many responses to an ad is just as bad as getting too few responses.

"It takes hours to sort through a pile of applications, and if most of them are irrelevant, that's completely wasted time. Now that sending in a CV is as easy as pressing 'send' on an e-mail - and applicants don't even have to pay fax charges - the pile could easily contain thousands of documents."

This is one of the reasons Job Mail recently tightened the process by which jobseekers can apply for jobs via the site, says Erken.

"Every jobseeker has to first register on the site before they can apply for any position, and they must complete a standard CV template. That makes it much easier for recruiters to weed out candidates who don't have suitable qualifications."

It also eases the process of checking CV claims, says Erken. "This is the age of the Google CV," he says. "There can't be many recruiters who don't now automatically check out applicants' Facebook profiles, and do a Google search on them. Even something as basic as finding the phone number of an educational institution is now simple - and it all adds up to making it possible to verify the authenticity of CVs with more accuracy than ever before."

Erken advises jobseekers to ensure their online profiles present the right picture to the world.

Research from AVG Technologies discovered that more than 90% of HR professionals in the US search for unprotected social media profiles in order to assess a candidate's suitability.

"That three- or four-page CV you carefully craft to make you look good is useless if there are pictures of you drunk and mooning the camera all over the Internet," he says. "Facebook is a wonderful way to stay in touch with your friends, but you have to manage it very carefully. Take the time to learn how the privacy settings work and be aware that they change often. Un-tag your name in pictures you wouldn't be happy for your granny or a future boss to see.

"Remember that the Internet is fundamentally a public space. If you use your real name on social networks - and sometimes even if you don't - whatever you say in those spaces will be part of your public image. If you wouldn't say it directly to the person you're asking for a job, don't say it on the Internet either."

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