Common Résumé Lies: What to Look For

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When it comes to the particular details that job seekers may lie about, some of them are complete fabrications meant to pull the wool over the employer’s eyes, while others may tweak the details just to give them a little bit of an edge. They’re most likely trying to appear more desirable to a prospective employer, banking on the fact that many employers never check references or verify statements made on résumés or during interviews.

As a hiring manager, there are many stresses and hassles when sorting through hundreds of applications looking for the perfect candidate for an open position. At times it can seem so daunting that the first instinct is to quickly pick the initial candidate who appears to be the best, both on paper and in person, and send everyone else on their merry way. But as soon as that candidate comes in for training and gets settled into the job, you begin to notice a couple of discrepancies between what they said during the interview, and how well they’re performing in their job. The job market is tough right now, and some job seekers may, either intentionally or not, fudge the details a bit or outright lie on their résumé just to try and get the job, worrying about the consequences later.

Here are the most common types of information that a job seeker may alter during an interview:

1) Salary
On a résumé, it’s very easy to manipulate data, and most job seekers will use the salary from their previous job as an indication of two things. One, that their previous employer really valued the work that they did. And two, that if they are hired, they deserve to be paid either the same amount or greater. This inflation of previous salary is one of the most common lies. However, it’s also one of the easiest to verify or discredit. Salary is neutral information that almost all previous employers are willing to confirm, even if they won’t provide a more thorough reference.

2) Degree and Qualifications
As we discovered this year, no one is immune to exaggerating or even outright lying about their educational credentials – not even top executives at well-known companies. Many applicants may inflate their degrees or indicate they graduated when they did not. Again, this is information that can be verified with a single phone call (are you noticing a pattern?), yet most employers don’t take the time to do so.

3) Years of Experience
One detail that is slightly easier to get away with is years of experience. Practically every single job description has a minimum experience requirement. Applicants often overestimate the amount of experience they have with specific job-related tasks (my uncle is a plumber – monthly postings on his business Facebook page count as social media marketing, right?). Often, candidates resort to smoke and mirrors to obscure their previous work experience – or lack thereof. Be wary of résumés with overly-detailed job descriptions or lists of qualifications – the candidate may be trying to get you to look at quantity of tasks rather than quality of experience.

4) Reasons for Leavingpolice officer shushing
Every worker would like to have a perfect track record. But the fact is, for every employee who leaves a company under good graces, another employee’s job is terminated due to poor performance. Nobody wants to put on their résumé that they got fired, and many candidates will go to creative lengths to avoid doing so. The truth is, the best way to determine why an applicant left another job is to make a call to the previous employer – and compare their response to the applicant’s résumé.

5) IT/General Skills
In this modern age of technology, having expertise with computers is a must in almost every single industry, but many job seekers might confuse knowing how to use Facebook as being able to run a Social Media marketing campaign. Require applicants to take skills tests or perform a technical task during the interview. The best way to verify an applicant’s stated skills is to have them show you, not tell you.

These are five basic trends to look out for when looking at candidates. If it’s too good to be true, it often is, and the majority of these lies can be easily verified with one quick phone call (that’s why references are given.)