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Fact and Fiction. Resume Fraud May Be a Legitimate Concern When Screening Candidates.

BrightMove logoPublished with permission from BrightMove

By Tracy K and BrightMove Recruiting Software and Onboarding Solutions

Everyone is doing it…right? In this economy, measures have to be taken to make your resume stand out from your neighbor. Some candidates take slight exaggerations too far, often times committing outright resume fraud.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “executive candidates most frequently lie about reasons for leaving a previous post, results and accomplishments, and past job responsibilities”. “Academic credentials were the fifth-most frequently exaggerated type of information seen by executive recruiters.” Another study estimated that “about 20% of job seekers and employees undergoing background checks exaggerate their educational backgrounds. In a 2004 survey of human-resource professionals, 61% said they “often” or “sometimes” find résumé inaccuracies when vetting prospective hires, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.”

This last survey found that over half of the resumes had inaccuracies, this back when the economy wasn’t what it is today. I can only imagine what an updated statistic might show now. I can’t say that I’ve come across an awful lot of instances where candidates have been caught lying on their resumes (though I have come across a few). Most of the “fudging” I’ve witnessed has pertained to simple gray areas of a resume. Candidates will list tenure with a company, however, only the most recent job title, making it seem as though they have held that position throughout their employment there. This isn’t a complete lie, but it does show the possibility of a lack of integrity on the candidate’s part. Many applicants will also list only the years (instead of including the month or day employment began/ended). For example, they will state they worked at ABC company from 2004 to 2009, which seems as though they have 5 years tenure, when in actuality they were employed 11/2004 to 2/2009, having only a little over 3 years of tenure.

Free resume help site, FakeResume.com, posted an article stating:

A survey by the New York Times Job Market research team indicates that 89% of job seekers and 49% of hiring managers in the New York metropolitan area believe that a significant number of candidates pad their resumes.

The researchers define resume padding as falsifying information on a resume to make a candidate look stronger. The hiring managers who believe that a significant number of resumes are padded consider that (on average) 52% of the resumes they receive are padded. However just 13% of job seekers surveyed admitted to ever having padded their resumes.

82% of responding job seekers say they think companies are aware of resume padding and believe that companies perform background checks on the following:

  • Some items on the resume - 70%
  • All items on the resume - 17%
  • None of the items on the resume - 13%

The way to avoid some of these resume ambiguities would be to perform background and reference checks on potential hires. However, some industries (many entry-level positions) simply do not have the time/money/resources to conduct thorough checks and so these truths go untold and high turnover may be the result.

The point is that resume fraud happens and you need to be sure as a recruiter or a hiring manager, you are taking the necessary steps to protect your company and your turnover rates against those committing fraud, even when proper pre-employment checks aren’t an option. In the next post, I’ll talk about how to spot a fraudulent resume and red flags to watch for.

Traci K. is an HR Professional and freelance writer based in the Midwest, specializing in recruitment and immigration. When she’s not improving unemployment, she keeps busy with her husband and four children.

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