Post written by Valerie Freeman, CEO of Freeman+Leonard
Last week a reporter from the CW33 channel did a story about “lying on resumes”. She interviewed a dentist who fired about 30 people who had good resumes but could not do the work. Then she interviewed me about the prevalence of resume fraud and fudge and what employers can do about it. So here’s my take on the issue:
I’ve heard statistics that throw out 40% as the percent of resumes that contain fabrications or exaggerations. In my experience, I’d say that figure is probably true. It’s more difficult these days to lie about degrees, certifications, felonies and misdemeanors, credit history, driving record, salary, etc. because those items are more easily checked through background screens and other supporting documents. What is more difficult is employment history, real reasons for leaving a job and skills/knowledge proficiencies. A job hopper may choose to leave out some of their very short-term jobs; a bilingual person may not have enough proficiency in speaking a particular language, a social media expert may not be an expert at all.
Job seekers are getting wise to applicant screening systems which are looking for key words to screen out the mass of resumes submitted. So job seekers are responding by trying to fit as many key words and phrases into their resumes to fit these very tight job descriptions that companies are now writing. In the past few years, job seekers who are desperate for interviews, will wordsmith their resumes to try to fit into whatever job description possible. They may have some of the skills and background required, but not all; therefore, they fudge on their resume to make it look like they have the whole package.
Companies should always perform due diligence on prospective employees – background screen for credentials and criminal activity, driving record, credit history. If salary history is important, ask for a W-2. Drug tests are increasingly becoming part of the hiring process. Testing is the best means for discovering whether one can actually perform a job – and this includes having experts or people doing the job screen for proficiencies. If a company has only one Network Administrator and no one else in the company has that skill, then find an expert and pay them to screen the candidate. At Freeman+Leonard, we have a whole list of language proficiency experts that we use to vet candidates. Check references and make your candidate give you the names and phone numbers of previous bosses so that they can be called. The internet can sometimes find useful information about the candidate. Your own network can provide useful connections to people who may have worked with this candidate. It’s a smaller world out there than you can imagine.
As for job seekers, be as truthful as possible while making yourself look as good as possible. We all know that a resume is supposed to make you look your best and resume preparers seek to help you stand out; but lies are unacceptable. When discovered, it calls into question everything else in your background — trust is destroyed and can’t be replaced.