Is it a criminal offence to lie on your CV, and how common is it for accountants’ CVs to be made up?
We recruit accountants. Our company (Ten Percent Financial) is a specialist recruitment consultancy dealing with the recruitment of practice accountants mainly for small accountancy firms across the UK. One of our other divisions is a legal recruiter with over 20 years experience. In all that time, we have probably come across a handful of CVs from lawyers where we have discovered some or a substantial part of the content to be false or made up. We have even had a couple of cases where a lawyer has been to prison and missed out five or six years from the CV in order to compensate for this.
False Information on Accountants CVs – Weekly Issue
We have been recruiting accountants for about 12 years, and we must see a CV containing false information nearly every week. This is so common we are used to it.
How Do We Know and What Constitutes False Information on a CV?
It is quite simple – accountants simply do not seem to appreciate the importance of maintaining an accurate CV and either produce something that doesn’t even look like a CV, lacks basic information or, as is quite common, gets tweaked to suit the information the accountant thinks we need to see as recruiters and not actually the truth.
We know we get false CVs because very often the same accountants apply for different jobs again and again. Unfortunately they forget that for the last job they put in a different CV to the CV they have submitted on this occasion.
Very often, this will be to either promote one type of experience above another, and to remove a particular employer from the CV completely in order to do so.
Removing or Adding Practice or Industry Roles
So as a couple of examples, a CV has come in recently for an accountant who had been in a practice role five years ago for a period of three years. In recent times they had been in a non-practice role working in industry. On one CV they sent us, the industry experience was listed, but on another CV they sent us the industry experience had been removed and the practice experience was carrying on. So this accountant has concealed information when making an application for one of the two jobs they had gone for. They were either in an industry position in recent times, or they were in a practice position, and although we appreciate that it’s perfectly possible they could have carried on their practice work on a part-time basis whilst undertaking their industry role on a full time basis, the CV has not indicated this.
The other area where we see substantial amounts of fraudulent behaviour from accountants is when it comes to their education. It seems that some accountants think it is perfectly acceptable to virtually make up their qualifications and to not provide any evidence whatsoever as to the fact that they have the qualification or not.
You Say Fully Qualified ACCA and I say Part Qualified ACCA
The two worldwide recognised qualifications for accountants are the ACA and the ACCA. These two bodies award accountants chartered status so that they either become John Smith ACA or John Smith ACCA (or FCA or FCCA if they end up fellows). In order to become ACCA or ACA an accountant has to complete a certain amount of time in practice, and also complete a wide range of exams.
There are quite literally thousands of part-qualified ACCA and ACA accountants out there who have completed a number of exam papers but not quite done all of them, and nor do they have the requisite experience signed off in order to gain chartered status. However we receive CVS on a weekly basis from accountants who have simply decided that rather than bother taking the papers, they will just put down that they are ACCA qualified and think they can get away with it.
Crime Doesn’t Pay (Most of the Time)
Whilst we understand why candidates will do this when they can see vacancies coming up but they can’t apply for them because they don’t have the requisite qualifications, even though they probably have the requisite experience, it should be noted by people thinking of doing things like this that a CV with the wrong information on, deliberately so, can be construed as a tool to commit a criminal offence. If you obtain a job based on information that is manifestly wrong and you knew it to be so, you could be convicted of an offence of fraud, because you have obtained a pecuniary advantage by deception which is a criminal offence.
Hot Water or the Sack if You Get Caught
It is important to think about this carefully, because although you may have managed to get the job you were after by not telling the whole truth on a CV, you will also have managed to land yourself in hot water later on down the line if anybody discovers it.
Accountants – Stop Altering Your CVs
We think accountants should stop being so lackadaisical with their CVs. There are so many CVs sent to us that are simply not fit for purpose and accountants is one of the worst professions we have seen for this. It almost seems that a good number of finance professionals think that everyone else knows what they do, so if they write down that they have been at an accountants they don’t actually need to say anything else.