Monday, 21 December 2009

Always tell the truth. That way, you don't have to remember what you said (Mark Twain)

"I've looked at your draft CV and letter of application. It doesn't say that you passed your exams in either English or Maths. Assuming that you did, then you need to add them to your qualifications. If you actually didn't, then I'd add them anyway, because, let's face it, everybody lies about their qualifications these days, and nobody in HR ever bothers to check up on you"

Some form of joke? Sadly not. These were the words spoken to a former colleague of mine a number of years ago by the HR Director of a division within a major and well-known UK organisation.

It would be nice to think that in the intervening period the situation had changed, but the recent six-month suspended prison sentence and order to pay £9,600 in compensation given to a senior NHS HR manager who lied on her CV indicates that the temptation to lie about one's qualifications is still very much with us.

As reported in this week's Personnel Today, Kerrie Devine of Lympstone, Devon, falsely claimed she held a degree in Human Resource Management and said she was part way through a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development course when she applied for a promotion at Devon primary care trust in 2007.

Last week, following an investigation by the NHS Counter Fraud Service, Devine pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud by false representation at Exeter Crown Court. As well as the fine, she must also carry out 150 hours of unpaid community work.

NHS HR manager who lied on CV ordered to pay £9,600 in costs

  • Does the fact that this instance of fraud was perpetrated by an HR professional make the offence even more worthy of punishment?
UPDATE: HR manager sentenced for lying about qualifications


  1. The fact that the fraud was perpetrated by an HR pro makes it ironic, but not more worthy of punishment. Everyone knows they aren't supposed to lie on a CV or a resume. However, I think more severe punishment is merited for professionals who have direct responsibility for the health of others. It is a greater crime for a medical professional to lie on a CV than for, say, a hairdresser to do so.

    I found this interesting article on indicating that up to half of people lie on their resumes:

  2. It is interesting that this was dealt with as a police matter. What determines whether an organisation deals with an issue via their internal disciplinary procedure or involves external agencies?
    I absolutely agree with Jill that issues where professional qualifications are paramount to the role (doctor, surgeon, nurse etc) then the issue is more serious. And in these cases I would expect that organisations would confirm with the necessary professional bodies prior to appointment.
    In truth the fact that I got my IPM qualification in the year dot has absolutely no impact on my ability to do my job. However if I lie about it then that questions my honesty and integrity rather than my professional competence.

    So as a paragon of virtue – I’ll just go and re-vamp my CV. Just remembered - I never quite got that MBA from Harvard. Ooops


  3. I disagree with Jill Elswick. The woman SHOULD receive a more severe punishment because of her HR role. It is analogus to Police convicted of crimes being liable to a harsher sentence, or a doctor convicted of offending against a patient receiving a more severe sentence.

    Society expects serious punishments for those persons placed in particular positions of trust. An HR professional who lies about their qualifications is in this category.

  4. Readers may wish to read the most recent update on this item now that sentencing has been undertaken:

  5. Reviewing this thread, I'd like to add that I am glad the woman who lied on her resume was exposed. I'm a bit uncomfortable with the criminal prosecution in this case, but I agree there ought to be consequences for people who lie on their resumes. I tend to think the harm to one's professional reputation would be enough. However, maybe that's not so, since companies (I think) are required to maintain some level of confidentiality with job applicants. So the only way to do it legally may be to prosecute -- making the person's lie a matter of public record.