Does Resume Lying Affect Your Organization? You Betcha.

If you think your candidates are above lying on their resume, think again.

No company is spared the possibility that even the most unassuming individuals will avoid the temptation to lie on their resumes. ABC News recently reported the results of a CareerBuilder.com survey that found 8 percent of 8,785 U.S. workers polled said they had fudged some aspect of their resume. At the same time, of the 3,169 U.S. employers polled in the same survey, 49 percent said they’d discovered an applicant stretching the truth on their resume.

At Proforma Screening we find more than 20% of the background checks we perform contain “resume-boosting” issues. That’s an alarming one out of every five candidates! The question is how much “fudging” is too much? And can you knowingly trust an individual to act with integrity when it comes to the interests of your organization if they lack integrity in creating their own resume? Perhaps this sounds too harsh. After all, it’s possible that we, as employers, have simply grown accustomed to the used car sales pitch that has become the resume. And how can an individual be expected to compete with other equally qualified candidates when they are boosting their actual credentials?

When you consider the many well known stories of corporate executives who are ousted after background investigations uncover serious resume lies, you are quickly reminded of the importance of personal integrity in the hiring process. Not only do these individuals destroy their personal reputations, they take down the integrity of the company with them. And while lower level employees may not pose this risk, it’s really NOT okay for employers to accept anything less than the honest truth when it comes to candidate claims.

So how can you protect your organization against resume lying?

Look Out for These Common Resume Lies:

Forbes.com recently reported the 9 most common ways people lie on a resume. This resume lying can speak volumes about the individual you may rely upon to manage your employees, handle money, deal with customers, drive your company vehicles, manage your IT systems, or any number of other duties.

1. Messing with dates: Length of time at a particular job, number of years experience in a particular field, recency of course work or training, and other time lines can make the difference between a desirable job candidate and one that falls out of favor. Sure, you can chalk some of these date mistakes up to simply not remembering what happened when, but who’s to say those date inaccuracies aren’t intended to hide a deeper problem or misrepresentation? It pays to find out.

2. Bogus college degree claims: Whether reporting a degree not yet earned, lying about education never received, or presenting a fake diploma from an increasing number of so called “diploma mills” the threat of employees claiming false or overstated college degrees is a real problem. USAToday.com reported on the problem and cited the fact that only 40% of companies regularly verify degrees earned, according to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management. Even then, an untrained eye might miss diploma mills.

3. Exaggerated numbers: Was your applicant truly responsible for doubling sales at his or her previous company?  If so, great! You should expect similar results for your own organization. But what if those numbers are exaggerated, as is the case for the 3rd most common resume lie.  It’s nice to know what you really can expect from your new employee.

4. Escalating previous salary: When anticipating a salary negotiation the temptation to overstate one’s previous earnings can be strong. Adding a digit or bumping the numbers slightly may seem harmless to many but many employers rightfully look upon this act as deceitful. The fact is, an employee’s previous salary tells a story about the worth of that individual in the workplace. A candidate who overstates their previous salary in the hopes of making themselves appear more valuable is worth thinking twice about hiring.

5. Inflating titles: Business manager is the true former job title but the job your candidate is applying for is a business analyst. The temptation to modify the job title is there, but is it the right thing to do? Inflating titles range from taking the next title up, changing the title to better suit the job, or outright faking it.

6. Exaggerating technical abilities: Sure, your candidate has seen an Excel spreadsheet before but that doesn’t mean she can claim fluency in Excel. Examples like this can become even more serious when it comes to complex programming languages or other technical capabilities that result in an expensive learning curve and significant loss of productivity should an organization hire an individual who has overstated their technical skills.

7. Claiming language fluency: Remember that Spanish class you took back in junior high? Well, guess what? Surprising but true, the 7th most common resume lie is language fluency. It turns out some of your applicants might use that junior high class or similar experience to claim a language fluency on their resumes. Clearly this is something that can be easily disproved given the opportunity to test the employee on their skills. But often this claim is something that impresses employers enough to grant an interview over another equally qualified individual. Worth checking out, that’s for sure.

8. Providing a fake address: The reasons for this resume lie vary but one reason may be desperation on the part of the candidate to appear “local” to the hiring company in the hopes of appearing more available or accessible to the potential employer. Despite the reason this resume lie can give a glimpse into the life, personality, or character of a prospective employee.

9. Padding grade point averages: What’s wrong with pushing that 3.55 up to 3.75? Well, if you’re employer who considers academic achievement a key factor in the qualifications of your employees this grade point average padding can push an undeserving candidate above others more deserving.

In the end, what these various falsifications mean to your organization is for you to decide — but wouldn’t you like to know the facts? At Proforma Screening Solutions we offer employment verification services to check the accuracy of your candidate claims. We also perform employment screening covering everything from criminal records, education, employment history, driving records, and much more.

Find out how your organization can benefit from a well-planned and expertly-implemented employment background screening program. Our experts are here to help.

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About Michael Gaul

A security industry professional since 1988, Michael has extensive expertise in the fields of human capital risk management, physical security, and background screening process management. Michael leads Proforma’s sales, marketing, and strategic customer relations efforts.


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