Why Candidates Lie On Their Resume (And How to Catch It)

From edited employment dates to fake references, screening resumes comes with a lot of fact-checking. Learn how to spot resume lying and screen candidates more effectively so you can make the right, long-term hire for your business.

Seventy-five percent of managers have caught a lie on a resume, according to a recent CareerBuilder study. So, if candidates know there is a good chance they’ll get caught–why do they do it?

The first reason (which we covered on Monday): some resume lying is not always a deal-breaker…

Reason #1: Resume “Enhancements” are Generally Admissible 

This includes candidate behaviors such as claiming mastery of a skill they’ve almost grasped or exaggerating their involvement in a project. 

In these cases, recruiters are more likely to let things slide–recognizing that no candidate will fit all the requirements of an open position and understanding that a great application shows a candidate’s future potential to grow into the role (in addition to their current skills). 

Candidates are also aware of this unspoken tendency and–knowing that a resume is about portraying themselves in the best possible light–tend to stretch the truth a little here and there. 

This trend becomes especially true when the labor market gets more competitive for employees.

Reason #2: Modern Technology Affects How Candidates Apply 

“If crafted well, your resume is one of the most valuable marketing tools you have,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “In a matter of seconds, it can make or break your chances of moving along the hiring journey with a company.” 

Now, Applicant Tracking Systems (i.e. Glassdoor) are making it harder for employees to get through the door by screening resumes earlier and more thoroughly than ever before–making a quality resume mission-critical to getting hired. 

To stay competitive, applicants are doctoring their job history to match what an Applicant Tracking System might be scanning for––not necessarily because they have that skill. 

Some are embellishing their resumes with keywords to increase their chances of getting noticed. Others are hiding invisible words in the margins to beat the system. 

Reason #3: Feelings of Inadequacy In a Competitive Market

A recent study by Moneypenny, a leader in customer service technology, looked into resume lying. It found that most people stretch the truth because they want to enhance how an employer perceives their suitability for a role. 

In more mild cases, the candidate likely believes they are a fit for a role (they went through the trouble of applying after all). However, external factors like a super competitive job market or over-the-top job descriptions might lead to feelings of doubt around their suitability–ultimately leading candidates to exaggerate. 

In more sinister cases, candidates have been known to forge degrees, certifications, references, and more!

Defense Is the New Offense

These days, hiring is all about retention. It’s about making a hire that is not only a role fit but a long-term fit that wants to stay. Sorting through resume lying is part of that process. 

After all, the truth always comes out. Doing your due diligence upfront will help prevent the inevitable fallout after the candidate’s true abilities (or lack thereof) are exposed. 

What’s worse? Hiring someone with a fraudulent resume can threaten the safety of your business, your employees, and even your customers–making in-depth screening the key to hiring for the long term.  

Here are our top three tips for doing just that: 

  1. Do your research. There’s a lot of (inexpensive) data at your fingertips. Looking into candidates’ social media profiles to fact-check applications or incorporating better questions into early-stage interviews are great places to start.
  2. Follow through with reference checks. We know it can be easy to move forward with a seemingly perfect candidate without dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s–especially when your hiring team is busy. However, holding yourself accountable and following through with reference checks can help you make a quality hire that solves problems today and sets you up for success in the future.
  3. Use background check services and other pre-employment tools. Employers should pull criminal background checks, employment and education verifications, drug screenings, and more–and in many industries, there are legal implications if you don’t verify certain information (see: professional license verifications). 

Thankfully, solutions like S2Verify are here to help you sort the facts from the fiction with a complete suite of tools and services for screening potential employees

Our pre-employment tools work quickly and meticulously–to help you stay competitive in the current hiring landscape and protect your business in the long run. 

Check back on the blog Friday: America Back to Work continues. We’ll take a closer look at the tools and services we offer for employment screening so you can figure out what solutions you need to build a better defense.