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More than a third of checks on staffing & recruitment job applications reveal inaccuracies

The report covers checks carried out for organisations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) between January 2011 and June 2014.

By comparison, 37.9% of checks for professional services companies reveal inaccuracies, as do 37.1% in the technology sector, 37.0% in the legal sector and 23.0% in financial services.

Staffing and Recruitment

The percentage of checks that uncover discrepancies in staffing and recruitment CVs has fluctuated since 2012, peaking at 38.3% in 2013 and averaging at 35.7% overall. Of greatest concern is the growth in & lsquo;major’ discrepancies – those inaccuracies which raise significant cause for concern – from 5.0% in 2011 to 7.8% in the first half of 2014.18.5% of all discrepancies found during the period were considered major discrepancies.

The highest level of inaccuracies was found in candidates’ education where more than half (51.1%) of these checks uncovered a discrepancy, as did nearly a third (33.2%) of professional checks (qualifications, licenses and memberships), which is significantly above than the regional average of 23.9%. More than a third (33.7%) of all employment history checks for staffing and recruitment companies uncovered inaccuracies, which is also well above the regional average of 25.0%. 

Traci Canning, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of First Advantage in EMEA, comments: “These figures largely represent candidates applying to clients of staffing and recruitment companies and therefore cover a wide range of sectors. These companies are providing a valuable service to their clients by uncovering inaccuracies in more than a third of all checks and more than half of all education checks.”

Professional Services

Checks on professional services candidate CVs exposed the most inaccuracies, with 37.9% revealing discrepancies – well above the regional average of 27.2%. Remarkably, more than half (53.8%) of education history checks in the professional services sector exposed discrepancies, as did more than a third (35.2%) of professional checks (qualifications, licenses and memberships) and just under a third (30.0%) of employment checks. That said, both major and minor discrepancy rates have been falling in the professional services sector since 2011.

Traci Canning comments, “The high proportion of checks uncovering discrepancies in the professional services sector is obviously concerning. Based on our findings, there appears to be a link between prevalence of screening and lower discrepancy rates, as illustrated by the comparatively low discrepancy rates in the financial services sector where screening is routine.”


Following closely behind the professional services sector is technology, where 37.1% of checks uncovered inaccuracies on candidates’ CVs. Worryingly, the major discrepancy rate has risen over the last three years. Nearly half (45.1%) of education checks in the technology sector have uncovered discrepancies (second only to the legal sector) as have more than a third (35.0%) of employment checks – the highest of any sector analysed by this study. 28.3% of professional qualifications, licenses and memberships verifications also revealed inaccuracies.


At 37.0%, the legal sector experienced a marginally lower discrepancy rate than technology, yet still had higher discrepancy rates for all types of verifications compared to the regional averages. Overall, the level of discrepancies detected over the past three years has remained broadly flat – the consequence of a falling minor discrepancy rate (from 31.5% to 29.9%) and a rising major discrepancy rate (from 5.7% to 9.2%).

An alarming 55.9% of education checks on legal sector CVs found inaccuracies - more than any other industry.

Traci Canning comments: “The reputations of legal services companies are founded on integrity and proficiency. So, to find such high rates of discrepancy in candidates’ education and a rising rate of major discrepancies overall is naturally cause for concern – not so much for the companies that know about them but for those that don’t.”

Financial Services

As specific checks are legally required for & lsquo;controlled functions’ in UK financial institutions, candidates working within the sector are well aware that they will be screened and are familiar with the process. Consequently, discrepancy rates in the sector are lower than the regional average of 27.2%. Overall, the percentage of discrepancies has dropped from 26.4% in 2011 to 18.6% in the first half of 2014, averaging at 23.0%.

Within the sector, inaccuracies occur in nearly a third (31.2%) of education verifications, a fifth (19.9%) of employment verifications and nearly a quarter (32.1%) of professional verifications.

Traci Canning comments: “The comparatively low and falling rate of discrepancies in the financial services sector reflects greater regulation and a workforce that’s increasingly familiar with screening. This provides an example to other sectors where screening is less commonplace – our findings indicate the greater the use of screening, the less likely candidates are to attempt to conceal or misrepresent information when applying for a new job, which in turn improves the quality of hire.”


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