By human nature, we are usually concerned with presenting a meticulous image to the world. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that many candidates are often guilty of embellishing themselves to make a stronger first impression. While there is nothing wrong with a little harmless fibbing, lies on a resume can lead to a very embarrassing situation for employers and employees alike.
It is essential that recruiters and hiring managers alike learn how to spot lies in a resume; otherwise, it becomes a matter of time before an organization hires someone without the necessary skills and qualifications.
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How to Identify Lies and Misrepresentations in a Resume
As an established staffing agency, sorting through thousands of resumes is our specialty. Over the years, we have come across several candidates that had made misrepresentations of every scope and scale. Of course, as professional recruiters, we have a stringent vetting process to prevent these untruths from causing complications for our clients. Our vetting process enables us to spot gaps or flaws in what might otherwise seem a perfectly professional resume.
At many companies, in-house recruiters often simply don’t have the manpower to vet every candidate that applies for an open position. This can cost a business heavily in terms of lost revenue, inefficiency, and ultimately, friction in the workplace, to say nothing of the incremental cost of finding a replacement.
In more technical roles, it is usually difficult to get far by faking credentials, simply because a lack of knowledge and credible experience is quickly brought to light. However, that doesn’t stop IT staffing firms from thoroughly vetting potential hires. Here are a few of the most common areas that deserve your attention:
- Education and Certifications
- Workplace Achievements
- Work Expertise Level
- Work History
Let’s examine these in more detail below.
Education and Certifications
Many candidates feel that the lack of a degree (or the lack of accreditation from a top-ranked college or university) puts them at a disadvantage. Fresh entrants in the job market lack the years of experience possessed by their competition. As a result, the members of this new employee pool often have to rely on their degrees, grades, and educational proficiency to level the playing field and present themselves as valuable additions to the workforce.
As a consequence, it’s no surprise that candidates often stretch the truth when it comes to their education. In certain cases, ambitious tricksters may even make up a fictional college or university. A thorough background investigation into the educational history of a seemingly-compelling candidate will immediately unveil glaring discrepancies.
Education and certifications aren’t the only things candidates lie about on resumes. They also tend to overinflate their prior roles and responsibilities, and the successes that resulted. These misrepresentations are usually a lot easier to spot than many other lies.
You can check the accuracy of the candidate’s claims by simply asking them to describe their achievements in detail. As any marketing staffing agency will tell you, a candidate might be able to make a false claim about overachievement, but he or she will not be able to defend it under close scrutiny. Give the fibbing candidate enough proverbial rope to hang themself.
Work Expertise Level
In general, this is the one area of a resume that sees the most embellishments. People inflate the experience and expertise garnered from previous job roles. They may even modify the job description that comes with the role to give the impression they have handled more responsibility than other similar candidates. Unfortunately for such candidates, a professional recruiter can very easily spot lies and inconsistencies of this scale.
The best way to spot glaring discrepancies in work experience is to ask the candidate to discuss their previous roles while making careful notes of any contradicting statements. Over the course of the discussion, you find the candidate being evasive, or suddenly losing his or her confidence when confronted with close scrutiny. These are all telltale signs pointing to an inflated recounting of experience. Accordingly, hiring strategies should also encompass an interview with a technical professional in order to gauge how much technical expertise a candidate possesses. Technical tests or problem-solving exercises can further weed out the bad eggs.
Work history is another area that often sees a lot of padding and window dressing. People with gaps in their employment history feel it puts them on a weaker footing when it comes to salary negotiation. Candidates will often blur the specific dates of previous employment to cover any chronological gaps. More inventive candidates will even invent a fictional company and claim to have enjoyed years of tenure there. It is always essential for a recruiter to speak with past employers when considering a candidate for hire.
There are many brazen methods that candidates might employ to gain a professional advantage. In terms of employee turnover, inefficiency, lost revenue, and even professional embarrassment, there are few things as disastrous as hiring a candidate with fictitious credentials. That is why so many of our client partners trust us – our vetting protocols are structured to filter out disadvantageous candidates. The list of professionals that we source for our clients’ businesses possess the right mix of skills, education, and experience for every role.