Job-seekers ‘cheating’ recruitment tech to land roles, research finds

Business suffering skills shortages as recruitment difficulties worsen
Credit: Shutterstock.com/ Jirsak

Job-seekers are “cheating” recruitment technology platforms to better their chances of landing a job, according to new research into attitudes to digitisation, automation and AI in the recruitment process.

The study was undertaken by TribePad who canvassed the views of over 1,000 employees and job seekers in the UK. Findings reveal that as technology continues to permeate the recruitment and HR industry, job-seekers are looking for ways to game the system.

Of the tactics used, just over a fifth (22%) have searched online to find out how other people have been hired, a similar number (19%) have used buzzwords in their CV in order to manipulate an automated system, 15% have lied or exaggerated about their experience to get an interview, while nearly one in ten (8%) have cheated on a psychometric, skills or other kind of test.

These stats increase considerably among those candidates who understand what an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is. Nearly nine out of ten (88%) of candidates aware of what an ATS system is, admitted to optimising their CV with keywords and skills they know some automated tools are looking for, while those that are aware are also four times more likely to cheat, by using keywords for skills they may not necessarily have, to increase their chances.

This has meant a similar number (69%) now feel that greater automation in recruitment is useless because people can cheat the system by amending their CVs.

Despite the negative effects of online applications, over half (57%) of respondents prefer to search for jobs online, which rises to almost three-quarters of people who are not in work (70%).

There was also a generational and gender split: over half (59%) of 18-24 year olds and nearly two-thirds (60%) of 25-39 year olds said they also preferred online, while nearly two-thirds (61%) of females indicated online was better than human interaction.

This gap does however narrow the older applicants get, with just under half (46%) of middle aged workers (40-54 year olds) preferring human interaction, and a 50/50 split between online v. offline for 55-64 year olds.

Within the research, what became clear from respondents is that online has benefits that outweigh applying for jobs in person.

For example, an unemployed female aged between 25-39 said that “Online application doesn’t bring up nerves as much as face to face interaction”, while another young female in employment, aged 18-24 said “It’s a bit easier to feel confident behind a screen”.

For others, they valued the speed in the online, automated process:  “It gets you to the interview process quicker, also you find out if you’re successful quicker”  said a male, part-time worker aged 40-54.

“Online applications are growing in preference because they’re so easy to use. It also makes people feel more confident, they’re able to showcase the real ‘them’ without feeling put off,” said Dean Sadler, CEO of TribePad.

“But these positive feelings will only remain if we can stem the tide of applicants trying to game the system. Businesses therefore have to make sure they apply technology within talent acquisition correctly, and that their hiring teams explain the process better and highlight why it’s beneficial to the candidates.”