Identifying Resume Fraud

Resume fraud, or an applicant replacing factual information with “a little white lie” is not new problem. Although the economic downturn may have increased applicant desperation and fabrication, this problem has been around for years and occurs at all levels.

You may recall the well-publicized resume fraud case in 2001 of newly hired Notre Dame Football Coach George O’Leary. O’Leary lost his job within days when it was revealed that his resume contained serious inaccuracies, including claims of a Master’s Degree from what turned out to be a non-existent institution. In the late 1980’s, the Port Authority of New York took out want ads soliciting resumes from electricians with experience using Sontag Conductors. Nearly a third of the respondents said they had experience with Sontag’s. The problem: There is no such thing.

Executive and managerial resumes face tighter scrutiny today than ever, but regardless, some applicants will always feel the need to embellish credentials and accomplishments.

Here are some of the more common deceitful tactics:

1. Fudging Employment Dates

This is the most common practice and is usually done to cover gaps in employment. Be sure to verify dates when confirming employment and make sure application dates match those listed on the resume.

2. Fabricating Past Accomplishments

It is sometimes difficult to confirm inflated claims of achievement. However, ask for specific examples of how these achievements where attained and if the numbers don’t add up, probe further. Speak to references and former managers and try to verify all possible information.

3. Exaggerated Degrees and Education

There are many high-profile examples besides Coach O’Leary which have made the news over the past several years. Be sure to verify the educational institution existence and accreditation online and over the phone when checking an applicant’s claim.

Other areas to pay close attention to:

*Omitting past employers from resumes

*Falsifying the reasons for leaving a previous job

*The Inflation of job titles and responsibilities

Fortunately, there are many different ways to detect and prevent resume fraud, but all require an investment of various resources. Recruiters, HR professionals and hiring authorities are generally less concerned with punishment than with preventing these dishonest individuals from joining their organization. Of course, employees can expect to be terminated when the fraudulent activity come to light. A few states do have criminal codes on the books to punish the abusers which utilize false resume information, but most states do not.

I hope this information will help you when reviewing candidates.


David Lammert

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