Fake CVs and degrees: tough action will remove blight on industry, recruiters say

Jail sentences and big fines planned to stop people using fake qualifications

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Tougher penalties for people who use fake CVs and degree certificates to land jobs will clean up the job sector, recruiters said.

Job sector experts said they had seen fake university degrees and fabricated certificates in applications in recent years.

On Tuesday, the Federal National Council passed a draft law to punish people who use forged qualifications.

Such applicants could soon face two years in prison and a fine of up to Dh500,000 ($136,000). Under existing laws, someone could be charged with fraud, but such prosecutions are rare and members said there was a need for a specific legislation.

Using fake certificates is a blight on our industry and also on those people who have worked long and hard to obtain a degree

David Mackenzie, managing director of recruitment firm Mackenzie Jones, said the proposed legislation will deter unscrupulous job-seekers trying to gain an advantage over honest applicants.

People using a fake degree mistakenly or unknowingly could be fined up to Dh30,000 and could spend up to three months in jail.

Mr Mackenzie said qualifications are more important than experience and aptitude of candidates in the UAE job market, a practice that pushes many to use fake certificates.

“There is a reason it happens more often here than anywhere else in the world. To become a manager here, you have to have a degree,” Mr Mackenzie said.

“It’s part of the visa requirement and that’s why people feel the need to create fake degrees.

“It’s very much a cultural thing here. A degree is an entry point whereas in other countries, like the UK, degrees are less relevant to employers than experience in the marketplace.”

Mr Mackenzie said the new law will help candidates who are actually qualified to do the job.

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“It’s a blight on our industry and also on those people who have worked long and hard to obtain a degree,” he said.

Dodgy online universities with misleading titles take advantage of gullible students, he said.

“It’s very common for people here to want to study at legitimate universities from other countries,” Mr Mackenzie said.

“Some of these degree courses get a bad name because fake degrees are created with similar sounding names to try and trick people.

“Instead of being issued by Oxford University, for example, it will be called something similar, like Oxford University Campus, to mislead people into thinking it is genuine.”

Mr Mackenzie said he has met candidates who tried using fake degrees to get a job.

But potential employers could be more meticulous and prevent the use of fake degree certificates, he said.

“You can get certificates attested in embassies as well as check out the websites of the university that has issued the degree,” he said.

“You can log in, type in their names and dates to verify their claims.”

He also said bigger companies are better placed because they use advanced software to verify the authenticity of documents.

Companies often outsource reference and background checks to third parties.

Ian Jenkins, head of Middle East and Africa for recruiters Carter Murray, said using forged qualifications was not common in the UAE and less likely in the case of senior professionals.

“Once a candidate has a decade-plus of experience, their degree becomes less important and their experience speaks for itself,” said Mr Jenkins said.

"If a candidate had previously used a fake degree, it would probably become obvious by the time they reach director level and that would stop them rising to a leadership position.

“If anyone is thinking about this or similar deceptions in a hiring process, I would strongly recommend against it as you’re very likely to get caught. It will cost you your job and your reputation."