We’ve all been there – applying for your perfect job, absolutely desperate to impress, secure that interview and start work. It wouldn’t hurt to tweak the truth a little, would it? Maybe inflate your A-level grades a bit, make up something interesting to do as a hobby and talk up previous experience? And what about that criminal record section, surely there’s no harm in forgetting to declare that minor scuffle outside a pub or a theft charge?
Fraud by False Representation
Strictly speaking, lying on your CV or on a job application is a criminal offence, and falls under the banner of fraud by false representation, or presenting yourself as something which you are not. In 2013, 324 people were prosecuted for lying in this manner. Although ending up inside a police cell for embellishing your exam grades, it is something you should consider before changing that fail to a pass. In most cases where candidates lie it doesn’t get as far as prosecution. If your lies are discovered before you start work, the employer will withdraw their offer of employment. If you’ve already starting work when they discover the truth, the most likely consequence is that you’ll be dismissed immediately for gross misconduct. Employers can and do check references and if there are concerns about your work or abilities, might start to dig a bit deeper by contacting exam boards, professional bodies or Universities.
Although the onus is on the candidate to be truthful, there are occasions when you can omit certain details from your past. Employers will often ask about criminal convictions, but legally a candidate only has to include convictions which are not considered “spent”. Convictions are usually considered spent if they happened many years ago or when you were under 18, and were minor in nature. There are all sorts of rules about when a conviction is spent, and rules vary across the different parts of the UK. If you are unsure about whether a conviction is spent or not, you can check with the Police by submitting an access request to details which they hold on you. Rules may change in the future about the length of time for a conviction to be spent, so keep one eye on the press if this applies to you.
DBS and Convictions
Some jobs require a more in-depth level of police record checking through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) or AccessNI. Depending on the level of checks done, the police reports will reveal all of your criminal convictions and cautions, even though in other circumstances you might be able to consider them spent. So, lying on an application form for these sorts of jobs will almost certainly result in you being found out. Declaring minor convictions or cautions in your distant past may not affect your chances of getting a job, so it’s always best to be honest with the employer so that the DBS checks which reveal convictions don’t come as a shock.