Recruitment Tips, Employer Trends, and Hiring Insights from CareerBuilder

Selection > Talent Acquisition

Think You Can Spot a Fake Resume?

According to one CareerBuilder survey, 38 percent of employees have embellished their job responsibilities at some point, while 18 percent have 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. 

6 Ways to Keep Candidates Legit
Use the following tips as you evaluate candidate resumes moving forward:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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. It’s probably best not to ask candidates for their Facebook passwords, either.)
  4. 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.
  5. Be fair. Remember that mistakes and misunderstandings do happen. If you find a discrepancy, give the candidate an opportunity to explain.
  6. Use common sense. Trust your intuition and experience. If something doesn’t seem right, follow up on it.

Do you have an experience with a candidate or employee who lied on his or her resume? Share with us in the comments below.

Editor’s note: This post was adapted from an earlier post about resume lies, which includes true life stories from readers sharing their own ‘fake resume’ experiences.


Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.

A very informative article on spotting fraudulent resumes. The information herein are very helpful. Thanks for sharing. 

rn resume
rn resume

Your post is very informative for me. I am glad I visited here and come to know about it. I have gathered a huge resource being on your post. I will look forward to it.


I have a question regarding a statement made in the article. "...unusual periods of self-employment" -what exactly does that mean? Does that include verifiable freelance work? Or even, verifiable attempts at owning/operating a business? I am not an employer, yet a job seeker that read your article via MSN. I have been seeking steady, long-term employment for more than 2 years now with no success. Until a few years ago, I'd always held great jobs/positions and never had a problem seeking employment. I've had a few major life changes that shuffled my priorities around a bit, and until steady long-term employment was found, I was not sitting around waiting for the phone to ring. I've worked part-time and seasonal, done freelance work, started a business, attended seminars, networked, and have tried to stay relevant. Yet, without a a complete flow of "steady employment" this is looked at as questionable? My resume is designed to reflect my skills and qualifications, however, if employers are scrutinizing employment history to even include is someone like me- who would prefer to hone and direct my talents in one direction for a solid employer- ever going to overcome the judgement of choosing to be self-reliant rather than collecting unemployment or welfare?


Frustrated and just looking for a little feedback. 


@tami26452 I typically ask candidates if their business was licensed and insured (not for candidates that have done freelance work). In situations like yours, (if you aren't doing so already) I would recommend to make it a point on your resume and during your interview that you haven't been sitting around "waiting for a phone call". I applaud you for all the things you've been doing to stay relevant, I talk to too many people that get discouraged within the first six months and quit looking altogether and panic when their unemployment runs out. At some point the right employer will come along and recognize this. Have you tried staffing agencies yet?


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