In August 2022, the Supreme Court ruled Jon Andrewes was required to pay back £97,000 of the £643,000 he unlawfully received as an NHS Chief Executive Officer. This came in response to an appeal made to a previous court ruling (June 2022) stating Mr Andrewes made misleading and dishonest statements about his background for roles held between 2004 and 2015.
Mr Andrewes claimed to have the following qualifications on his employment application.
- First degree from Bristol University in Social Policy and Politics (1976-1978)
- MPhil in Poverty and Social Justice from Bristol University.
- MBA from Edinburgh University in Management Science (1982- 1984)
- Studying for a PhD in Ethics and Management at Plymouth University (from 2003)
- Advanced Diploma in Management Accounting (CIMA)
None of this was true.
Consequently, Mr Andrewes was prosecuted under the Fraud Act 2006, sentenced to two years imprisonment, and ordered to pay back his employer a percentage of his remuneration while in post.
The damaging consequences of CV fraud can lead to the following outcomes.
- Replacement costs average £30k (Oxford Economics 2014)
- Liability risks for placing a non-professional in a professional role
- Poor performance through substandard work and productivity
- Reputational damage by compromising service delivery and quality
- Fraud targeting for lacking thorough screening processes
- Low morale of employees who legitimately achieved a degree
- Domino effect incentivising dishonesty at interview
- Increased demand for fake degree websites
Some employers are mitigating these risks by verifying qualifications on resources like HEDD. Jisc, the education charity responsible for digital infrastructure in higher education, facilitates HEDD. Not only does the service verify grades, but it also confirms attendance dates and validates whether a university or college is legitimate.
My take: considering the time recruiters spend on candidates' CVs is estimated to be seven seconds (Ferrer, Aspire) and how competitive the job market is, submitting a 'padded' CV to stand out is not surprising.
Many candidates feel trapped in an 'egg to chicken or chicken to egg' cycle. Candidates are expected to have the experience without having the opportunity to earn said experience. Many employers freely admit to screening candidates based on degree despite clear evidence demonstrating candidates with only a degree to their name were either 'fairly poorly' or 'very poorly' prepared for work.
Opportunity is not evenly distributed in the UK or any economy. It is misleading fiction that jobs are plentiful and open to everyone when you consider the unequal distribution of job types. By design, better-paid jobs are scarce, fiercely competed for, and stonewalled. I believe the 'imaginative CV' is a market response by candidates trying to gain an edge through dishonesty.
A course correction would be for candidates to feel comfortable with their truth and not feel the need to become bad actors. Another is for recruiters to exercise more discretion and not PR manage candidates into caricatures. A final correction would be for employers to serve as open forums for the community and not inflexible gatekeepers with unrealistic demands.