While 93% of jobseekers in Canada believe they are honest with their applications – no embellishment or exaggeration – 82% of professionals believe that candidates providing references are not being honest.
A new study called The Recruitment Risk Index by Xref has found that that 97% of Canadians denied asking a referee to exaggerate on their behalf but 68% of employers said they were convinced they were being lied to when they check these references by phone.
"Among many, many desirable qualities, Canadians have a worldwide reputation for being honest,” said Lee-Martin Seymour, Xref CEO and founder.
“However, it seems that a portion of the population are, perhaps unwittingly, deceiving potential employers when it comes to employment references."
According to the survey 38% of those surveyed have been named by a friend for employment reference; 50% of respondents suggest it’s more important to put forth a "good reference" versus a direct manager.
Seventeen percent has come as far as asking a friend – completely unrelated to the previous place of employment – to provide reference.
“What this study has discovered is a bit of a black hole of truth,” said Seymour.
“Whether that's intentional or not, organizations must be able to safeguard their systems and not fall victim to dishonest candidates."
Other behaviour that the study has uncovered are:
Sixty percent of HR professionals stalk their candidates online for more information – and these decision-makers turn more to Facebook
(79%), not LinkedIn or Google
Younger jobseekers (aged 18-24) are aware of this and deliberately set their social media account to private. Nearly three in 10 also edit their profiles and hide certain posts when hunting for a job.
- It’s not the millennials who are exaggerating.
It’s the 30-49-year-old jobseekers (12.5%) who are more likely to exaggerate their work experience and qualifications than their younger counterparts (7%).
These older job hunters are also three times more likely to ask a referee to pretend to be someone they are not
- Millennial jobseekers are the most anxious.
The reference-checking process causes anxiety for a 62% of young Canadians (aged 18 to 39). They admit to worrying about the delays the validation process could cause in their application.
There is such a thing as “reference fatigue. Sixty-six per cent of Canadians indicated they had named the same reference on more than one occasion, citing an average of 4.4 times. A further 42 per cent reported not knowing how many times their referee had been contacted overall.
58% of HR professionals surveyed (58 per cent) agreed that being a referee is inconvenient when they are contacted multiple times for the same person. Forty-one per cent admitted that, if they had a choice, they would prefer not to provide references for their organization's past employees. The reasons: They are not comfortable with being asked (40 per cent), their data privacy may be threatened (36 per cent) or the candidate's privacy may be threatened (36 per cent).
"Clearly, more transparency is needed," says Seymour.
The online survey was carried out in October 2017 among 1,011 randomly selected Canadian adults who have applied for a job with a new employer in the past two years and 102 randomly-selected Canadian adults employed in human resources.
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Referrals may pose problems for diversity