A new study is showing a sharp contrast between what Canadian job-seekers believe they're putting out there, and what human resources professionals think they're getting.
Reference checking company Xref's Recruitment Risk Index found that 93 per cent of Canadians believe they have a "squeaky-clean jobseeker reputatation," and are extremely honest. But an overwhelming 82 per cent of HR professionals think job-seekers aren't always being honest, and 7 in 10 (68 per cent) believe a reference has lied to them on the phone.
And while a number of Canadians admit to exaggerating or lying on their resume, the number isn't the same among different age groups. Of those surveyed, 30- to 49-year-olds were almost twice as likely as millennials to have exaggerated their qualifications and work experience to get a job (12.5 per cent versus seven per cent). They're also three times as likely to admit asking a someone to pretend to be someone they are not for a reference (nine per cent versus three percent).
Canadians not any more dishonest than other countries
Xref CEO and founder Lee-Martin Seymour said he's not sure what the reason is for the age discrepancy, though workers with a longer employment history may have more to cover up.
"(If) you have a wealth of career history, there are gaps in your history or things that you don't want referenced, so you're more likely to bend the recruitment process in your favour," Seymour told HuffPost Canada.
Though this is the first year Xref has completed the survey in Canada, similar studies have been done in other countries where it operates.
Seymour said Canadians aren't any more dishonest than people in other countries.
"In Australia, 70 per cent of candidates have admitted to deceiving a recruiter to get a role. Whereas here, 93 per cent of candidates say they've been brutally honest when they've applied for a role."
"So there's a very big difference in those two statements. But maybe that's a cultural thing."
And the problem for HR professionals when taking references doesn't just lie in the possibility of being deceived, Seymour explained, but also in the time it takes to check a candidate's background.
He said traditional methods of checking references, like calling them on the phone, are a "huge drain on resources and on time."
The fact is is that employers across Canada are losing candidates because of delays in referencing.Lee-Martin Seymour, Xref CEO
"You've got to get a hold of these people in the middle of day, ask them an array of questions that might be discriminatory, you might not have a candidate's consent, and you might be taking a reference behind their back — which is not allowed — and you might not be speaking to the person that you think you are because it's a phone number and it could be their mate in a pub."
Almost a third of respondents in the Xref survey said that delays in the job application process — which traditional methods of reference-checking often cause, Seymour said — made them take another job instead.
"The fact is is that employers across Canada are losing candidates because of delays in referencing. And we're in a skill-short market. We can't afford to lose talent," he said.
In Xref's study, nearly half of the population (44 per cent) admitted that delays in the job application process caused them anxiety, and a large majority (91 per cent) want more transparency in the process.
For the Canadian public, an online survey was conducted among 1,011 randomly selected adults who applied for a job with a new employer in Canada within the last two years and had to provide an employment reference. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
For HR professionals, an online survey was conducted among 102 randomly selected Canadian adults who are employed in human resources and involved in the reference checking process for their organizations. The margin of error is +/- 9.7 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
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