In the current economic times, with thousands of people looking for work, it is not unheard of for applicants to stretch the truth on their resume to get the upper hand while applying for a position. In completing my research for this topic, I found one website Statistic Brain Research Institute that provided some astounding statistics on resume fraud from a survey conducted in October 2015. According to the survey 73% of resumes and job applications contain falsifications, 70% of college students surveyed would lie on a resume to get the job they want and 46% of employment, education and reference checks showed discrepancies between the applicant and the source. These numbers differ from two years ago when only 53% of resumes and job applications contained falsifications. That is a 20% increase! What has happened to cause such an increase in just 2 years? Our economy has taken a huge hit and thousands of people are out of work. Do these numbers scare you? They certainly reinforce that some due diligence is required when completing the hiring process.
So how can you protect yourself against resume fraud? I have some tips below that will help you identify possible suspects.
- Review the Resume carefully, in cases where there is fraud or falsification, you can usually look back and see indicators on the resume. You should pay particular attention to these items when reviewing resumes. While not everyone is lying on their resume, your first real opportunity to verify any suspicions will come during the interview process.
- Work/Employment History Dates. One of the most common things that I look for is accurate dates on the resume. If an applicant is only listing the years of employment (i.e. 2014-2015) that sends my spidey senses into overdrive. This could indicate as little as 2 weeks of employment or close to two years of employment depending on the months in which they were employed. While it is an omission by choice, it is usually done to make a situation look better than it is.
- Education – Another area where applicants frequently misrepresent themselves is education. Some applicants may have started a program only to abandon it. If the educational requirements are a must for your organization pay attention. Make sure the resume lists a graduation date and the degree / certification obtained. It may come as a surprise to some of my readers, it certainly was to me, but there are websites that will allow an individual to buy a fake university degree. Again, the statistic show that 73% of resumes or job applications are misleading, you need to know if the applicant is lying about their education.
- Projects and Accomplishments – Although this may not be an area you can use to rule out a potential applicant before interviewing, it is one that you should look at. While interviewing the applicant, ask specific, probing questions about the projects and accomplishments listed. The information you gather here, then provides you with a direction on what questions to ask during the reference checks.
- Completing Reference Checks is your first line of defense in identifying applicants that are not being truthful on their resume. Reference checking is not something that you should complete half-heartedly. This is an aspect of recruiting that will require certain skills and knowledge. You need to consider Human Rights laws and the protect grounds when asking questions. You may also want to consider the applicant’s current situation if they are working and you contact that employer you may jeopardize that individual’s ability to keep their position. I have had many clients in the past who felt that they could contact whomever they wanted to complete a reference and unfortunately those applicants lost their position because they were looking. For more information on how to complete references please check out my previous blog post “Ensure you get the Total Picture. Conducting Reference Checks” For more information on your responsibilities under the Human Rights Act please see some references at the end of this post.
- Complete Background Checks – Some people may have a hard time with this one. You could do a google search on the individual to determine if they are being truthful, social media can also be used. You do want to be careful with these as not everything on the internet is true either. If you want to dive deeper into an applicant’s past, there are several Background check companies to assist you with Reference, Education and Character references.
We see an increase in resume fraud when there are fewer jobs available. An applicant who is desperate for a good paying job and has been without work for a lengthy period will embellish, omit or outright lie on their resume to look better than the other thousand applicants. The only way to prevent resume fraud is to identify the discrepancies through verification, references and background checks.
Do you think that you could identify resume fraud? What would be the cost to your company if you did not?
Additional References as per above: