Liar, Liar, Resume on Fire

By Kathy Gurchiek Sep 2, 2015
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If a job candidate looks perfect on paper, HR professionals, recruiters and hiring managers should be wary. Sometimes in an attempt to stand out, an applicant makes an unforgivable misstep—lying or exaggerating on his or her resume.

First Advantage, a global provider of background screening analytics, found that nearly one-fourth of 2,882 job candidates admitted to exaggerating the truth on their resumes. Respondents were from the U.S., the U.K. and the Asia-Pacific region and were surveyed between May and July 2015.

Padding a resume is a calculated risk; 7 in 10 employers spend less than five minutes reviewing a resume, according to a CareerBuilder survey of 2,532 hiring and human resource managers conducted in May and June 2015.

And background screening provider HireRight found that only slightly more than half (58 percent) of small businesses surveyed check a candidate’s previous employment and references and that only 32 percent verify education. Its findings are from a subset of data from its 2014 Employment Screening Benchmark Report.

HireRight also noted that 86 percent of 3,028 respondents surveyed in the third quarter of 2013 have discovered a lie on a candidate’s resume or application. More than half of the employers CareerBuilder surveyed have caught a lie on a resume.

Some applicants get creative, such as the ones who claimed to:

*Be a Nobel Prize winner.

*Be a former CEO of the company to which the person was applying.

*Have worked in a jail when the person really was serving time there.

*Be employed at three different companies in three different cities simultaneously.

*Have attended a college that didn’t exist.

*Be HVAC-certified and later asked the hiring manager what “HVAC” meant.

Education and experience are the types of information most often falsified on a resume or job application, SHRM Online reported in April 2015. CareerBuilder found that the most common lies are about the applicant’s skill sets (62 percent), followed by their responsibilities (54 percent), employment dates (39 percent), job titles (31 percent) and academic degrees (28 percent).

“Job seekers have the unenviable challenge of grabbing—and holding—a hiring manager’s attention long enough to make a strong impression,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, in a news statement.

“Embellishing your resume to achieve this, however, can ultimately backfire,” she said. “Most hiring managers are willing to consider candidates who do not meet 100 percent of the qualifications. Job seekers can increase their chances for consideration by proving past achievements that exemplify an ability to learn, enthusiasm and cultural fit.”

It’s important to listen carefully to candidates to ascertain whether their answers match up with the job experience they claim to possess, according to Danielle Baldwin, an account manager at Sallie Mae in the greater Philadelphia area.

“During the job interview, if the applicant’s responses to questions don’t coincide with the experience they are stating they have, it should be addressed with the applicant,” she said in a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) LinkedIn discussion. “I would have them tell me more about what exactly they did in previous jobs that pertains to the experience they listed on the resume.”

Even if an applicant with a falsified resume is hired, though, the untrue claims of experience, education and other credentials likely will catch up with him or her eventually and lead to a dismissal.

Kathy Gurchiek is the associate editor at HR News.

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