Is It Possible to Spot a Lie on a Resume?

September 16th, 2015

Did you know that about one-third of job candidates lie on their resume?

It’s true – and it’s backed by industry statistics. One recent study concluded that 34 percent of applicants’ resumes included either outright untruths or lies of omission – gaps or vague information to cover for something they were trying to hide from a prospective employer.

Some of the most common resume lies concern education, employment dates, job titles and technical skills. Hmm … Just how truthful is that resume you’re reviewing?

When to Raise the Red Flag

Here are some signs to watch for:

  • A school sounds questionable. There are few laws governing the awarding of diplomas. Issuing or purchasing a bogus document is not illegal; however, it is a crime on par with a traffic ticket to pass it off as a legitimate degree. Such diplomas typically look very realistic, so you have to do some research and make sure a college or university is accredited in the degree stated.
  • You’ve never heard of a previous employer. You may not have heard of a candidate’s former company. This is not a deal breaker in and of itself. But if it is the case, research the firm and make sure that the information you find aligns with the claims on a person’s resume.
  • A former job title seems overinflated. Sometimes, companies give people a bigger title in lieu of a pay raise. In other instances, a candidate may inflate their own title. Know when to question this; for instance, did an individual go from an entry-level job to senior management in a short period of time? If anything sticks out as odd, a confirmation phone call is in order.
  • You spot employment gaps or vague information. If a person fails to disclose an important piece of information that you have a right to know, they are lying. So if you spot a gap in a resume, question it. There’s not necessarily any shame in it, but a person who doesn’t want to talk about it may be hiding something.

What to Do

So, you’ve found the inconsistency or questionable line on a candidate’s resume. Now what? Get the answers you need by:

  • Having a personal conversation with the individual. Sometimes, when reviewing a resume at first blush, it’s tough to spot false information. But in an interview, you can probe for any details that you need to clarify or find concerning.
  • Conducting an online search. There is simply no reason not to use the fingertip access of the Internet to learn as much as you can about prospective hires. Start with LinkedIn and Facebook and take it from there. Reach out to any and all common connections to verify information.
  • Asking probing questions. During interviews, when discussing details such as employment locations, dates and supervisors’ names, ask candidates to be specific in providing details. Drill down and continue the conversation till you are 100 percent satisfied with every response.

To take the guesswork out of recruiting and thoroughly vet talent, partner with a specialized recruiter who can read between resume lines. Read our related posts or contact the team at Select Group, Inc. to learn more.

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