It’s an epidemic. From a seemingly innocent omission or a little fudging of the numbers all the way up to blatant falsehoods, it seems like people will do anything to get hired these days. They hope that no one will check. Often, they are right. Employers often wonder how they can weed out resume liars.
How big is the problem? There’s no definitive answer—because not every fibber gets caught. But industry estimates are pretty staggering. According to HireRight’s 2017 Employment Screening Benchmark Report, “Eighty five percent of survey respondents uncovered a lie or misrepresentation on a candidate’s resume or job application during the screening process – up from 66% five years ago.” The tendency to embellish isn’t restricted to people who are trying to get a toehold on the bottom rung of the ladder. It’s quite common even among candidates seeking senior positions—all the way up to the C-suite level. A Yahoo CEO and a Veritas Software CFO have both been fired in recent years for claiming to have college degrees that they, in fact, never earned. It is important to weed out resume liars before they are hired.
What Types of Lies Do Candidates Tell?
There are many areas on a resume where candidates may feel the need to shield employers from the truth and cast themselves in a more favorable light. Common truth-stretchers include:
● Exaggerating skills and abilities to appear more competent
● Describing scope of responsibilities in a misleading way to appear more experienced
● Covering up gaps in employment to avoid being questioned about lapses
● Claiming to work for a company they never worked for in order to seem more credible
● Listing a degree they don’t have in order to appear to meet the job posting criteria and avoid having their application immediately rejected
● Lying about a previous salary so they can negotiate for a higher starting salary at their new job
● Criminal history (for obvious reasons)
How Can Recruiters Weed Out Resume Liars?
These are the most common ways HR and Recruiting catches inconsistencies and fabrications.
● Background checks
● Employment checks
● Reference checks
● Social media checks
● Skills testing
Consider the Cost of Catching Lies
Obviously, it’s important to prioritize the types of checks done based on factors such as the likelihood that a candidate is lying, whether the lie is material to their ability to perform the work at hand, and how easy it is to verify information. For example, if someone has a criminal record, they may be highly motivated to lie about it. But running a criminal background check on every single job applicant would be cost prohibitive—and unnecessary when most of the applicants will not be selected to proceed to the interview process anyway. With an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), it’s possible to determine which step in the hiring process will trigger an automatic background check.
What about verifying salary? The reason people lie about this number is so they can have a higher starting point when negotiating their total compensation. For employers who use other benchmarks to determine salary offers, this may not seem like a big deal. But this information is typically simple to verify since previous employers are fine with releasing this data and have a routine process in place for doing so. It makes no sense to hire a person who would lie about something that’s so easy to check. They aren’t just being dishonest. They are also being foolish.
With jobs that require a high level of skill (that many people can claim but few actually possess), performing skills testing early in the process can save a lot of time. That way, hiring managers aren’t tempted to take on a candidate based on personality and awesome interviewing skills when the job seeker doesn’t really have the capabilities they claim. The good thing about skills testing is that the answers are black and white and don’t rely on an interviewer’s ability to be a human lie detector. And it can save a lot of money from day one by ensuring new hires are able to hit the ground running. If skills are assessed based on certifications, having an ATS and onboarding system that can allow certificates and licenses to be scanned and uploaded as part of a candidate’s file is important.
Doing a cursory social media check on sites like Facebook can be a fairly simple way to check on details that seem a bit “off” so HR can weed out resume liars. However, especially with candidates who have common names, it’s important to verify that the person HR is researching really is the same person who submitted the resume. But be cautious about singling anyone out for special scrutiny and make sure candidates are aware that their publicly posted social media presence will be reviewed. Monster.com has more advice for avoiding legal trouble when doing social media checks.
What If You Do Find a Resume Liar?
They should be marked in your ATS as “Do Not Hire”. This tracking system allows you to flag more than just the current application. It should cross-check personal identifying information on new applications submitted since the same person may try to apply again at a later time using a different version of their resume.
The Applicant Tracking System offered by Efficient Forms can help you mark and weed out resume liars. Contact them today.