Can you spot a fake resume? Can’t blame you if the answer’s no…It’s becoming trickier than ever thanks to the rise in Web sites – like CareerExcuse.com and FakeResume.com – that make it even easier for job seekers to falsify information on their resumes.
Add to that the already strained resources hiring managers, HR professionals and recruiters have to verify these claims, and it’s even easier for unqualified job seekers to slip through the cracks.
In fact, a 2008 CareerBuilder survey on lies job seekers tell found that 38 percent of employees had embellished their job responsibilities at some point, while 18 percent had lied about their skill sets. Other common lies surrounded information about employees’ start and end dates of employment, academic degrees, previous employers and job titles.
- Perform a standard background check on things like work history, residences, dates of employment, etc. Look for discrepancies between what the candidate submitted and what the reports reveal.
- Check for red flags: Unexplained gaps in employment, a reluctance to explain the reason for leaving, and unusual periods of self-employment can be a tip off to false employment history. Always check references, including clients, for self-employed work history. Because even references can be fake, check the web sites of previous employers and use the phone numbers found online for employment verification. (Can’t find a previous employer’s web site, even after you’ve “Googled” it? The Better Business Bureau or the local Chamber of Commerce are good resources to check, too.)
- Utilize social networking sites. Social networking profiles contain public information that may help you verify certain information such as a candidate’s work history or education credentials. (Just be aware of the possible legal ramifications of using social media to screen applicants.)
- Test their skills. Knowing that employers use keyword searching to find and qualify their resumes, applicants may include keywords for all skills required for the job – regardless of whether they have them or not. Find out if they’re embellishing by asking specific technical questions about the skills they claim to have and actually test their computer skills.
- Be fair. Remember that mistakes and misunderstandings do happen. If you find a discrepancy, give the candidate an opportunity to explain.
- Use common sense. Trust your intuition and experience. If something doesn’t seem right, follow up on it.
Lesson Learned: Readers Share Their Own Fake Resume Stories
In the comments from a previous post on lies job seekers tell on resumes, many readers shared their own experiences in dealing with false resume information. Here are some of their stories:
- “Several years ago I learned a very important lesson: be wary of people who claim a previously outrageous salary from a “now defunct company” but are willing to work for less because they “like your company.” We hired my Executive HR Assistant who ended up spending the first two weeks of her job with us surfing for a new job online. We do have internet management software that blocks job sites, but as she was HR she needed access to these sites for our own recruiting efforts. It does monitor the sites visited though, and that’s what tipped us off. Additionally, she had five different versions of her resume stored on her company computer. All of them had her working for us for over one year, when she had only started 10 days previously. However, the reference name and number she included for our company was not us. The funny thing was though, all of her business references and previous employment history checked out before we hired her; except the most recent one that “went out of business.” When checking references, look the company info up online and call directly. Don’t use the info the candidate supplied unless you have to, then take it with a grain of salt.” – Nathan
- “I was ready to hire the perfect candidate when I decided to run a background check. We don’t normally run one for every position but this position had access to cash so I’d required it. The letters of recommendations from previous employers were actually letterhead he stole from the companies. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he submitted a list of company contacts and personal phone numbers. Everyone on his list turned out to be one of his friends who covered for him on the initial phone conversation telling us what a great employee he was. Digging deeper we found at a previous job in another city he was told to resign his position or he would be turned over to the police for theft. His explanation was that if he told me the truth, he probably wouldn’t have got the job. After that experience, I run background checks on anyone and everyone that works in the office and/or drives a company vehicle.” – John
- “We had a person claim a very high-level position at a major corporation. It was actually true, but we couldn’t figure out why he wanted to come work for us in what was a huge step down for him. A few days later his name was in the paper – he had had *ahem* inappropriate activities with a board member of the company he was working for, in the parking garage. Which had been caught on tape….” – PJ
- “I received four applications with the exact same resume…The only difference were their names at the top.” – Colleen
What’s So Wrong with a Little White Lie?
I also want to mention, however, that a few readers of that post actually came to job seekers’ defenses – arguing the point that there’s little harm in embellishing resume information if experience and performance trump what’s on paper….Would you agree?
Or do you, like other readers, believe that if job seekers are willing to lie about one thing, they are probably willing to lie about other things, too?
What are your thoughts? Do you forgive “embellishments” on resumes, or is any white lie a deal breaker?Related