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July 5, 2023

How Employers Can Sniff Out Resume Lies

HR professionals must review resumes and applications for just about every new hire. While we’d like to tell you that fewer people are misrepresenting themselves to get a job, we’d be, well, lying if we said it.

The unfortunate fact is that some job seekers are still using subterfuge in various ways on their resumes and during their interviews. Employers must stay on their toes to ensure they’re getting the education, experience, and attitude they need out of a new hire.

Studying Up on the Most Common Resume Lies

In a recent survey, 55% of respondents said they lied at least once on their resume during their 2022 job search. Of these, 30% said they had never been caught.

What are the most common ways candidates misrepresent themselves?

  • 17% of survey respondents reported using a fake reference. Directing employers to family friends, or even a fake reference service (that costs around $150) instead of their real employer is common.
  • 55% said they lied about previous work experience.
  • 43% lied about skills.
  • 41% of respondents admitted lying about their college degree. Of these, 35% said they had a degree but lied about what subject it was in, 24% said they had a degree when they didn’t, and 10% lied about which college they attended.

Failing to recognize that your applicant is being less-than-honest can have damaging consequences for your company. If you hire a person who doesn’t have the experience, education, and skill sets they claim, they can underperform. Their lack of knowledge can damage customer relationships, frustrate your current employees, and, in some cases even tarnish your brand’s reputation.

How Employers Can Avoid Believing Dishonest Claims

In many cases, it’s challenging to find a new hire that offers the talent it takes to fill an open role. Employers may be tempted to believe everything on their resumes just to get a position filled fast. This “blind trust” approach can cause big problems down the road.

Finding new hires that possess the know-how that’s required to do a good job is vital to your company’s productivity and growth. Instead of taking every applicant claim at face value, you should lay out and follow a strategy to catch half-truths, embellishments, and completely fake information.

Watch for conflicting information during the interview.

Keeping candidates who are lying about their qualifications off the payroll is every employee’s responsibility. Each person who participates in the hiring and interviewing process needs to be educated on how to pinpoint the information that may be untrue.

Interviewers should closely review the resume before each interview and ask in-depth follow-up questions that correspond to job seeker claims. It’s a noteworthy red flag if the candidate can’t explain a process or is vague about their education or work experience.

Verify information with a background check.

Independently checking an applicant’s claims is one of the most definitive ways to find the truth and know whether they deserve an employer’s trust. Instead of handling it in-house, it’s smart to hire an experienced third-party background screening vendor to run pre-employment checks on your potential hires. These are professionals who handle background screening requests every day. They know how to dig for and deliver information that will help you make good decisions.

Proactively create a background screening plan that you follow with every single hire, as this will keep you in compliance.

  • Employment verification. If you want information about their previous work history, order an employment verification, which gives information like dates worked, titles, responsibilities, and more.
  • Education verification. If a degree or certification is required for the job, ordering an education verification will tell you if the applicant attended a school, earned a degree, their major, and even their GPA.

Use job skill tests.

Employers can require job applicants to showcase their abilities and skills through different types of testing. Depending on the position, employers may be able to use a standard skills test to see if they have the knowledge they claim. Or, they can design a specific project that relates to the role. For example, someone who would be giving presentations in their position may be required to do a short one as part of their interview. In addition, a person who needs to be able to work with numbers could submit to a short project involving the type of work they’d be doing.

Job skills tests offer hiring managers first-hand evidence of the candidate’s skill set and knowledge. The results either back up or negate their resume claims.

Proper Planning Minimizes the Risk of Believing Resume Lies

It’s a disappointing reality that lying on resumes is still a popular practice. For every 10 resumes you review, 5 of them most likely contain some sort of fallacy. The good news is that employers can protect themselves from applicant misrepresentations with a little bit of forethought and effort.

The first step is knowing about the different ways job seekers may be trying to pull the wool over your eyes. From there, adding in-depth interviewing, background screening, and skills tests to your hiring process helps uncover untrue applicant claims.

By being confident in your hiring process, you can minimize the worry that you’ve hired someone who doesn’t offer the experience, education, and skills the job demands. This approach helps you find talent that can perform well and contribute to your company’s success.

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