Top Lies People Tell to Get Hired

April 2013

The resume looks great. His suit is pristine. His education and references are impeccable. His answers are polished and smooth. He is the perfect candidate.

Or, he could be lying through his teeth.

A resume may be a completely factual and truthful document, or it may be a complete fabrication. Studies have shown almost half of resumes contain some sort of mistruth.

Why do they do it?

To compete. Jobseekers are competing in a difficult market, often times going up against dozens of people for just one job. Exaggerating their skills is a way to ‘get a leg up’ on the competition.

To hide. A person with a negative work history or a criminal record may choose to fudge their resume so they don’t have to explain these instances to a new employer.

What are the common mistruths?

While there are several ways applicants can misrepresent themselves, these 4 are the top lies that can be uncovered on a resume:

1: Exaggerating dates of employment. This is a biggy, and almost a third of resumes contain some sort of discrepancy in the employment dates. An applicant could be hiding the fact they have been unemployed for a period of time, or they could be omitting a job from which they were fired. They could also be stretching their employment dates to cover up jail time. It’s important to check out all dates of employment thoroughly.

2: Faking references. Almost a quarter of applicants will add a reference to their resume that is not entirely truthful. These references may actually be the jobseeker’s family member or friend. When contacted, the ‘reference’ delivers a glowing review about the candidate which can be completely FALSE.

3: Exaggerating education. This is a very popular lie that is showing up on resumes far and wide. Faking a college degree is becoming more widespread and shockingly easy. The web has many sites a person can order a complete degree and transcripts that look exactly like the real thing.

4: Inflating job title and salary. An applicant may exaggerate their job title and salary in the hopes of skipping up the ladder in their next job. The idea for this mistruth is the potential new employer will not offer them a lower ranking job or smaller salary than the one they had before.

The consequences of hiring someone who has lied on their resume can be detrimental to a business. Having an employee who has misrepresented their experience and skill set can cause work to be done improperly, which can lose customers, be dangerous, and can even cause huge negative media publicity. It is important to guard against this happening by checking out resumes with a discerning eye.

Thoroughly verify all aspects of information contained on a resume!

- Education verification: use a trusted third party to verify dates of attendance and degrees obtained about the candidate.

- Employment verification: ensure there is no funny business with the dates of employment by having candidate’s former supervisors interviewed. Confirm employment dates and whether the applicant is eligible for re-hire.

- Reference checks: have all references checked out by a trusted third party. Instead of using the phone numbers the applicant provided, do a web search and call the main business number and ask for that person. If there is no one there by that name, be very suspicious.

Resume fabrications are a big part of today’s hiring climate. It is imperative to have stop gaps in place to catch any mistruth before a hire is made. Thoroughly having all information verified can help ensure the best person is hired for the job, and reduce the risk of an unsafe, unproductive workplace.