Jobseekers in Dubai are making so many false claims on their CVs that potential employers are hiring private investigation firms to do background searches on them.
From claims as simple as exaggerating current levels of salary to the extreme measures of lying about qualifications, recruiters say they are not surprised by the high numbers of jobseekers embellishing their resumes because of high competition across all markets.
But sometimes embellishments go too far.
Amena Baig, managing director of Ultimate HR Solutions in Dubai, said a background check on an applicant revealed that the candidate had grossly exaggerated his qualifications and former role.
“Once I interviewed a candidate from Scotland claiming to have a PhD who said they were a leading recruiter back in Scotland,” she said.
“Once we did a reference check with his previous employer, we discovered he worked as a cleaner.”
While it is illegal for private investigators to operate on the ground in the UAE, it is not uncommon for companies to seek the help of businesses working internationally to perform online background checks.
Baldev Puri, chairman of Indian-based AMX Detectives, said his company gets more than 100 cases a year from companies in Dubai asking for background checks on potential employees.
“We get at least two cases a week from companies in Dubai asking us to check up on people who have applied to work with them,” said AMX’s Mr Puri.
“It is all kinds of companies that hire us as well, it is not just coming from one sector. It is easier for a company to do background searches when the candidate is based in the UAE. But when they are coming from outside the region, it gets trickier and that is where we come in.”
Ian Jenkins, manager with Dubai-based recruiters Carter Murray, said that while his company does not use private investigators, it is not uncommon for them to outsource background and reference checks to third-parties.
Embellishing CVs has become so prevalent in Dubai, that Mohammed Osama, managing director Gulf Recruitment Group, said he would not necessarily be deterred from working with someone who had been less than honest with their resume.
“Exaggeration is so common that I would not rule out a candidate because of it,” he said.
“It is human nature for people not to want to talk about bad stuff in an interview. The market is not great for people seeking work right now, it is an employer’s market so I can understand why jobseekers do it.”
Mr Osama said that it is vital that jobseekers are honest with recruiters to prevent any embarrassment down the line.
“We will find out. A good recruiter is like a lawyer, we are on your side but there has to be full disclosure,” he said.
“You have to tell us because it will come out at some stage.”
There are different levels of deception when it comes to CVs, and Mr Osama said the risk involved are proportionate to the inaccuracies in a resume.
“If it is something like trying to hide being made redundant is fine,” he said.
“However if you claim that you have a degree and it turns out that you do not then you are going to get fired.”
Mr Jenkins has first-hand experience of the consequences of a jobseeker not being honest.
“Recently a client withdrew an offer when a candidate misrepresented their degree grade, having been asked to produce the certificate they were forced to come clean and the offer was withdrawn,” said Mr Jenkins.
“The client said to me afterwards that had the candidate been honest about the real grade they would have happily hired them; the issue wasn’t the qualification it was the lack of honesty. In cases of intentional deception or fraud we have no option but to cease representing that candidate permanently and inform any clients with whom the candidate is in process.”
Submitting fake or doctored documents is another big no-no and will result in immediate termination of employment.
Exaggerating your current level of salary is the most common lie that jobseekers tell on their CVs.
“That won’t get you in trouble as it is quite common and potential employers almost expect it,” said Mr Osama.
Mr Jenkins agrees.
“Often this takes the form of including elements like bonuses in with their basic salary to boost their perceived monthly earnings,” he said.
Another reason for jobseekers embellishing their CVs is because they are ashamed about being out of work for any period of time.
That is a mistaken presumption, said Mr Osama, as most employers will show understanding in this area.
“It used to be the case that being made redundant was a huge taboo,” he said.
“Employers used to think that if someone was out of work for long periods it must mean they are no good, but that is no longer the case because redundancies are becoming more and more common in this region.”
The issue of embellishing a CV only really becomes a problem when a company hires from outside the region or industry.
“It is not uncommon for companies to hire a private investigator when they are hiring someone from an unstructured environment,” said Mr Osama.
“Companies are becoming more risk averse though and that is why they prefer to hire someone from the same industry in their region. That way they can make a simple phone call to someone they know and trust to find out about a potential employee.”
He added that it makes it more difficult to lie when everyone in the industry knows who you are.
“The days of the formal reference check are over. It is much more common for an employer to ask about someone’s experience rather than their qualifications,” said Mr Osama.
“They want to know what someone is like to work with by reaching out to people who have worked with them. That carries much more weight these days.”