75% of Employers Have Caught a Lie on a Resume: Here’s How to Identify a Dishonest Candidate

Ladan Nikravan Hayes


Here’s something you probably don’t want to hear: candidates lie. Often. A recent survey from CareerBuilder shows that three in four HR managers report having caught a lie on a resume.

But think of it from their point of view: finding a job becomes increasingly difficult when the economy slows down or when a seeker has been out of work for a while. Job seekers do whatever they need to do to get themselves noticed amid the sea of applications – and that sometimes includes the occasional embellishment.

The need to stand out may also come from wanting to make every second count. Among HR managers, 39 percent said they spend less than a minute initially looking at a resume. Nearly one in five (19 percent) spend less than 30 seconds.

Most Outrageous Resume Mistakes

In the survey, HR managers and hiring managers shared their most notable and cringe-worthy real-life examples of gaffes. These embarrassing resume blunders serve as a reminder to always proofread your resume.

  • An applicant claimed to have written computer code the hiring manager had actually written.  Both had the same previous job, but the applicant did not know that fact.
  • Applicant included a picture with all of his pets.
  • Applicant said he worked for Microsoft but had no idea who Bill Gates was.
  • Applicant’s resume was lifted from the Internet, did not match the cover letter.
  • Applicant said he studied under Nietzsche.
  • Applicant stated that he had tried and failed a certification exam three times, but was planning to try again.
  • Applicant claimed to be an anti-terrorist spy for the CIA at the same time period he was in elementary school.
  • Applicant falsely claimed to have a PMO credential when applying for a job at PMI (the organization that grants that credential).
  • Applicant included a description about his family.
  • Applicant mentioned that his hobby is to watch horror movies.

What Does This Mean For You?

The bad news for candidates is the odds of getting caught in a lie are high. Especially when employers are aware that so many people embellish on their resumes and most companies do simple searches on social media to determine if a candidate's resume is accurate. But even if dishonest candidates slip through the initial screening process, here’s how to spot a liar before you hire:

  • Contact references: Thorough reference checks can confirm — or deny — the information a candidate offers on their resume. If references reveal untruths, hiring managers can toss the offending candidates aside. If references prove the quality of a candidate, then hiring managers will have an easier time convincing authorities to bring that candidate aboard.
  • Perform background checks: When it comes to selecting the best candidates to work for your business, going deeper than just face value should be a routine practice. The background check is as a preemptive measure to ensure the integrity of the organization and the safety of employees.
  • Test candidates’ skills: One of the surest ways to see if someone is embellishing skills is an in-interview test – it leaves no doubt about a candidate’s real ability.

Learn how to prepare for the future of recruitment.

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