A significant number of job candidates falsify information on their resumes. Surprisingly, many applicants who fabricate their information still land the job. How is that possible?
According to Neil Adelman, President of Safeguard, a comprehensive background screening company in Beachwood, Ohio, “About 50% of resumes contain incorrect information and many businesses either lack the proper in-house resources or initiative to carry out full employment verification procedures or criminal record checks. As a result, companies can easily make poor and costly hiring mistakes.”
There are a variety of reasons why candidates falsify information. From my experience, the reasons run the gambit of trying to hide periods of unemployment, conceal substance abuse, and/or hide a criminal record. For some, it’s simply to get the competitive edge in today’s economy and fierce job market.
According to the Wall Street Journal and the Society for Human Resource Management, here are the top reasons why employers should screen their applicants:
- Reduce Legal Liability
- Ensure a Safe Work Environment
- Prevent Theft & Other Criminal Activity
- Comply with State Law
- Assess Overall Trustworthiness
I’d like to add two more…it saves time and money. For example, I recently advised a client of mine to conduct a thorough vetting process before hiring my candidate or any candidate for that matter. The hiring manager said it was their policy to hire first and then check. Unfortunately, they initiated their criminal background check well into his first month of employment, after on-boarding and training were completed. To their dismay, they found criminal activity in his past that if repeated, would put their company at risk. They terminated his employment immediately. Neglecting to do a background check before hiring was a costly mistake for them. Thousands of dollars in company resources including financial, human capital, and time were wasted.
I recommend that the best time to do a background check is when you narrow the playing field to one or two candidates and before a job offer is even discussed. Employment and background verification is too important for your company to hesitate on, delegate to an untrained employee, or disregard your state’s guidelines and requirements.
Frankly, you have a duty to take care of your workforce as well as mitigate risk for your company. That’s why DRI uses screening services before hiring our own employees and recommend the same to our clients.
Have you ever lied on your resume or embellished the truth when speaking with a recruiter or hiring manager? It happens fairly often and it puzzles me because background checks and references are quite easy to conduct. In addition, a simple Google search can quickly uncover false information.
Recently I caught a candidate in the midst of a lie just by asking the same question twice. The first time I spoke with him, he said he made $80,000 in 2013 and wanted to better himself by changing jobs. When I called back a week later and asked that same question again to make sure that the position I was about to present was in his “must have” range, he bumped his 2013 earnings up to six figures. All of the sudden, he earned over $100,000 in 2013. I asked to see his W2 for verification purposes but he declined. He also hung up on me which was for the best since any confidence and trust I placed in him was now gone.
What other things do candidates often embellish or just plain lie about? Here are 5 that my team and I encounter quite often:
Enhancing skill sets & accomplishments. If you didn’t do it, or didn’t achieve it, don’t list it. However, there’s nothing wrong with enhancing your resume with quantifiable accomplishments and improving how you display them.
Unexplained gaps of employment. Rather than make up a fictional job to cover an employment gap, try acknowledging the gap in your cover letter. If you were taking time off to raise children or to take care of a sick parent, no employer will fault you especially if you can show that you’ve kept up with the industry.
Fabricated education, degrees and certifications. This is very risky. This lie is one that could not only get you fired, but might also incite legal action on the part of your employer. It’s simply not worth the risk.
Omitting past employment. Depending on the circumstances or why you left a previous job, you might be tempted to leave it off your application or resume. Carefully weigh your decision, because a background check or employment verification could reveal your omission, making it look as if you are hiding part of your work history.
Falsifying reasons for leaving prior employment. There’s a tactful way of explaining being fired or quitting abruptly, and it doesn’t have to involve lying. Just figure out the best way to explain it in as positive a light as possible. Not explaining the reason(s) can and will ruin your chances of getting hired.
Here’s where I need to reiterate that honesty is still the best policy. Lying on your resume or directly to a recruiter or hiring manager will come back to haunt you. Once you’ve told lies, they snowball. If you land the job, you’ve got to keep up the charade of each lie for the rest of your career. Who can keep up with all of them?
Have you ever embellished your resume or know somebody who did and got caught? Share your resume stories with us below.
What is going through a hiring manager’s head when selecting a candidate? There are 7 top factors that influence their decision making about whether you get hired:
A Great Resume.
To get noticed in the first place, you have to have an impressive resume. Remember, your resume is the first impression the hiring manager will have of you. Keep it current and fresh. Also, look at other people’s resume typical to your industry and check how yours compares.
Showing Long-Term Potential.
Employers want people in their organization to work their way up and grow with the company. Flags go up if they see that you like to change jobs every 2 years. So if asked where you see yourself in 5 years, it’s best to say that you envision your future at the company on a continued success track.
Ability to Get Along with Others.
Since you will spend a lot of time with co-workers, employers want to make sure you have the ability to work well with lots of different people. Also, employees who have a sense of belonging with their co-workers tend to be happier at their jobs.
A Clean Online Presence.
These days, there’s a good chance that the hiring manager found you through social media in the first place. Turn your social media presence into a positive by making sure your public profiles are appropriate and kept up to date.
The Right Skills and Experience.
Having the right hard and soft skills with experience in the industry will put you ahead of the pack. Employers want to know that you can contribute from day one.
Giving Specific Examples.
Hiring Managers want people who can prove that they will increase the organization’s revenues, decrease costs or help it succeed in some way. Provide specific examples in your interview of how you were able to contribute elsewhere and quantify your work if you can.
Just about every hiring manager will be excited about a candidate who is enthusiastic and gives off positive vibes. People are attracted to happy and positive people. If you lack experience and skills, this could be your trump card.
If you’re a Hiring Manager, what else has influenced your decision to hire a specific candidate?
I Found the Perfect Job Online. What do I do Now? By Chris Hesson, Guest Blogger, DRI Plastics Division
After months of browsing online job boards, you finally see that one role that combines your past roles, industry experience and passion. And…it’s local!
What do you do now?
This is a scenario many job seekers face. Unfortunately, most take the worst possible next step: they apply online with the same generic resume they have sent out to so many other companies.
This will most certainly ensure that your resume enters the black hole of corporate HR, never to be seen again!
So, what do you do now?
HINT: Do NOT apply!
Step 1: Customize your resume.
Go through the job description bullet-point by bullet-point. If they are looking for a software developer with ABC experience, your resume should highlight your experience with ABC.
Your resume should mirror the job description.
Similarly, if you have experiences or skill-sets that are not relevant. Leave them off or at the least keep them few and simple.
Step 2: Network.
Before you submit a resume online or to HR look through your network. Do you know anyone that works for the company? Do you know anyone who knows anyone who works for the company?
Do not be afraid to tap your connections for introductions, no matter where they may be within the organization.
For example: If you are interested in an engineering role, but have a 1st or 2nd connection to someone in finance or sales, reach out to them! They may go golfing with or park next to the engineering manager
If you have no connections into the company, you can always coldly reach out to someone on the sales team. Sales professionals are great to network with.
REMEMBER: Networking is a 2-way street. Yes you have the goal of being able to make inroads within an organization, but try to find out where you may be able to provide value to them as well. Networking is all about deposits and withdrawals. You may even be able to return the favor by providing them with a lead!
Step 3: Repeat Step 2!
Connect with multiple people: develop rapport with them, learn about the company’s philosophy and culture, use them to connect you to other people within the organization.
Step 4: Leverage your network.
Use your old or new-found connections to introduce you to the hiring manager (or worst case – HR), or at the very least pass along your resume, and strongly recommend that they reach out to you.
Step 5: Repeat Step 4!
Having multiple people within an organization championing you increases your chances of having that first conversation with your potential new boss! A job search is like sales: it is all about pipeline. (Some people choose to focus on pipeline by sending their resumes out to every company hiring. But I would recommend honing in on those perfect roles and increasing your pipeline towards them).
Step 6: Talk to a recruiter.
Try to find recruiters who have done business with that company before. Some recruiters highlight who they work with on their website, or you may see that the hiring authority (or multiple people within the company) is/are connected to several recruiters. Reach out to them. Tell them that you are interested in connecting with a company they already know about and a position where they may already know the manager!
At the end of the day, nothing will guarantee you an interview, offer, or even a conversation; but increasing your exposure will decrease the odds that you end up in the resume black hole!