5 Common Lies Found on Resumes

Tue, Aug 28, 2012


If you have an open position you’re looking to fill at your company, you’ll certainly have no shortage of options. Millions of highly qualified professionals are currently out of work, so with a bit of diligence you should be able to uncover the perfect fit for your team in only a few weeks. The problem is how to pare back the spin and marketing most people employ in their resumes and cover letters to uncover an individual’s true potential and experience. And you’ll have to accept that people lie on their resumes. They do it often, and about almost every piece of information contained there. There’s just too much at stake, and you can’t really blame that person for trying to cover up their weaknesses. But according to a recent report by ADP, a payroll company that routinely performs background checks, nearly 45% of the 2.6 million applicants they screened lied about their prior work experience. That’s a huge amount, and can make your hiring job that much harder. So keep an eye out for the five most common lies found on resumes, and hopefully you’ll be better prepared to weed those candidates out of your next search.

The largest lie of the bunch, included by more than one quarter of job applicants, is salary history. It seems like the simplest lie to get away with, as most applicants don’t expect future employers to review that data too closely. But many employers who have been burned in the past are beginning to ask for W2 reports given out by prior employers, an easy step that will catch the lie immediately. Lying about your past salary is not considered fraud, as long as the job is in the private sector. But feel free to make the request if you have any concerns.

The next most prevalent lie involves a candidate’s credentials. This is another easy lie to catch, as you can’t exactly fake receiving a degree from an accredited institution. You should expect that any degree, diploma, certification or other acknowledged level of competency that a candidate notes is accurate. But in recent years, companies that fraudulently give out diplomas online have been cropping up, and they somehow manage to get around the law. If you find someone has used a service such as this, alert your supervisors and ask for a public statement to be issued.

Prior job performance is another area of a resume that candidates often pad. These lies are more difficult to track, as that effectiveness must usually be taken on their word, as their prior supervisor could have moved on, or the company could have even shuttered. Just ask that the candidate be prepared to back up that claim with some sort of information or evidence. If they can’t do so, be aware that it could be fabricated.

Another common resume lie is adjusting the description of a prior job responsibility. The job seeker may attempt to make their previous work seem more important than it was, or suggest they had an integral role in a project that they were only superficially involved with. Chances are you’ll be able to uncover this lie after a brief conversation with their former employer, but make sure you get details from the job seeker during the interview that you feel satisfy his claims.

The final most common lie found on a resume is the candidate’s job skills section. People often want to claim mastery of skill sets they are only proficient with, and proficiency in others that they have only dabbled in. This is harder to spot during the interview, and may not come out until they are actually on the job. The best course of action here is to challenge that the online emba they received actually gave them mastery by asking them to complete a skills test on that key task while at the interview. You’ll be able to gauge their proficiency in real time, and therefore assure yourself that they are up to the challenges of the job.

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