It's no secret that the global economic crisis has had far reaching consequences in terms of employment. The most common has been companies downsizing and resultant redundancies.
What this has in turn created is record high unemployment, leading people to apply for jobs they might otherwise consider beneath them.
In employment law cases, employees have a duty to mitigate their loss. Accordingly, when seeking remedies, employees are often asked as part of Employment Relations Authority and Employment Court proceedings: what have you done to limit your loss/what have you done to obtain new employment?
I've seen lists that run to multiple pages of the roles people have applied for and heard stories of employees being one of 1000 people applying for roles at supermarkets and petrol stations; roles that they might not previously have considered on the basis that they were over qualified.
The latest consequence appears to be a consideration of 'dumbing down' your CV in order to get a lower level job. News outlets reported earlier in the week a story about a Napier woman who was told by Work and Income New Zealand to delete references to her political science degree from her CV as part of her applications for roles at Pak'n Save supermarket and KFC.
The rationale clearly was that with such a degree, she would be overqualified for the roles.
Some might say - but as an employer wouldn't you want to hire someone with excellent qualifications, even if it means they're over qualified?
However, someone's qualifications can raise questions about how long the person intends to stay in the role (are they intending to use it as a 'stop gap' and move on as soon as a more appropriate role comes along), and how will they fit in with the other employees?
If most of the other employees do not have tertiary qualifications or are school students or recent school leavers, how will the introduction of a new, more highly qualified employee in the same role, affect the dynamics in the workplace? Not so much putting a cat amongst the pigeons, as putting an owl amongst the pigeons...
The other issue this raises for employers is: how much can you rely on an employee's CV? Employers need to be mindful of their obligations under various pieces of legislation, such as the Employment Relations Act 2000; the Privacy Act 1993; the Human Rights Act 1993 and the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004.
An employee must be honest when submitting a CV and when asked for an employment history, should provide an accurate employment history. That said, employees often do tailor their CVs to suit the role they are applying for.
It is important as an employer to be aware that there is no obligation on an applicant to volunteer information and the onus is on the employer to ask questions to elicit information as part of the interview process.
Such questions should be relevant to the role and the duties to be performed and should not be irrelevant, a 'fishing exercise' or raise issues which may expose the company to a claim for discrimination under the Human Rights Act 1993.
The reality is, cases such as those involving Mary-Anne Thompson and her fabricated doctorate from the London School of Economics - together with John Davey, who was found in 2002 to have presented false qualifications in his application for Chief Executive of Maori Television - demonstrate that CV fraud isn't limited to low level positions - it potentially spans the full range of positions.
It's interesting to note that, rather than keep his head down, Mr Davey is now complaining he was treated too harshly!
As an applicant, you don't have a duty to volunteer information but if asked, the obligation is to answer honestly. Applicants should by all means tailor their CVs, but not so as to misrepresent their applications. If you're a Ferrari, let the employer know they're getting a Ferrari - but that you're revved up and ready to go...
Bridget Smith is an employment lawyer at Minter Ellison Rudd Watts