Planning on adding staff some time in the near future? It appears that there’s some new urgency to double- and triple-check those resumes and ask plenty of follow-up questions during the interview process.
Reason: A staggering 85% of employers discovered lies on job applicants’ resumes in the past year, according to a recent 2017 Employment Screening Benchmark Report by HireRight.
That’s a huge jump from the 66% of employers that said they found lies on resumes just five years ago.
While lying on a resume is nothing new, the steep jump hiring managers uncovering untruths in such a short time frame is certainly disturbing.
Won’t hold gaps against you
Why the jump?
Mary O’Loughlin, the vp of global customer experience at HireRight, thinks the increase in resume lies could be attributed to a recent wave of Baby Boomers retiring. Hoping to cash in on Boomers’ former roles, roles that generally required greater skills and experience than the rest of the labor force, job hopefuls are inflating their credentials and skills, O’Loughlin says.
Another possible reason: Job applicants may have been out of work during the Great Recession and don’t want those years to go missing on their resumes.
Of course, being caught in a lie is far worse than explaining a gap in employment. As O’Loughlin put it:
“In reality, most employers are going to be more upset about the lying than someone not having a job for a period of time. Employers understand that there were a number of people who were unemployed during that period or at some point during their career and most won’t hold it against [them].”
3 lies to look for
So what should HR pros do to avoid falling victim to a lying job candidate. As we’ve covered previously, the best defense is being aware of the more common resume lies.
Here are three of the more common resume tweaks, according FakeResume.com, a Web site that advises job seekers on how to bend the truth and get away with it:
1. Covering up employment gaps
Many candidates are concerned about explaining periods when they were out of work. FakeResume’s recommendation: Pretend you were volunteering.
It’s a lot tougher to verify volunteer work than employment history. But if you’re suspicious, don’t just brush past the issue. Ask probing questions about the work and, if possible, check references at the organization.
Another tactic to cover employment gaps or inflate experience is the so-called “functional resume,” which lists experience and accomplishments grouped by type, followed by a list of previous employers, rather than a chronological list of past positions. Not everyone who uses a functional resume is lying — but it might put you on alert.
2. Fake references
Most resume lies can be caught by checking references — so candidates who are serious about their dishonesty will provide references that are fake or impossible to check.
FakeResume recommends candidates provide the name and phone number of a fictitious supervisor at a large company. The number actually belongs to a friend who pretends to be an admin and tells the caller the company only provides references via letter. The candidate then mails a fake reference letter.
Candidates also place “typos” in a former employer’s address or phone number, hoping HR won’t bother when they can’t contact the person.
If you’re concerned about the references someone gives, experts recommend finding the company’s Web site and contacting the supervisor through the main phone number.
3. Phony responsibilities
Most fraudulent resumes don’t contain outright lies. More often, candidates stretch the truth, beefing up previous titles and exaggerating the responsibilities they had in previous positions.
The best way to catch those fibs is to ask detailed questions and not let the candidate off easy if you get vague or suspicious answers. Another tactic: Bring in somebody who’s already doing a job similar to the one the person’s applying for. Dishonest applicants will try to fake their way through an interview using buzzwords and generalities but break down when someone who’s actually experienced in the field asks for details.