58% of Applicants Lie on Their Resumes, and You Don’t Know Who They Are

Written by Andrew Dose on November 9, 2017

While we’re all wary of certain people and situations (e.g. when we’re buying a used car or considering a shiny new “Rolex” on a card table on 42nd Street) we’d like to think that reviewing job applications and resumes in preparation for hiring a new team member isn’t one of those times. After all, we’re all professionals here, aren’t we? Can’t we trust that an applicant’s personal and professional history are the truth?

Sadly, the facts tell us no.

According to a 2014 survey by CareerBuilder.com, “Fifty-eight percent of hiring managers said they’ve caught a lie on a resume.” Shedding some light on what may be behind this shocking number, the survey also noted, “one-third (33 percent) of these employers have seen an increase in resume embellishments post-recession.”

So, more than half of the nearly 2200 hiring managers surveyed were able to identify exaggeration and untruth on resumes turned in by hopeful applicants. And that’s just the ones they caught! How many more may have slipped through the cracks?

Which industries see the most falsehoods on resumes?

The survey noted the following industries as reporting the most lies on resumes:

  • Financial Services – 73 percent
  • Leisure and Hospitality – 71 percent
  • Information Technology – 63 percent
  • Health Care (more than 50 employees) – 63 percent
  • Retail – 59 percent

Perhaps this trend speaks to fiercer competition in these industries. However, it’s frightening to realize that all of them are industries that have either a direct or indirect connection to the public’s health, safety, money, and personal information.

What are applicants lying about?

Digging a little deeper into the survey, we can see where applicants feel the need to “embellish” their personal or work histories:

  1. Embellished skill set: 57%
  2. Embellished responsibilities: 55%
  3. Dates of employment: 42%
  4. Job title: 34%
  5. Academic degree(s): 33%
  6. Companies worked for: 26%
  7. Accolades/awards: 18%

These are the core elements of resumes that hiring managers rely on to determine if individuals have the necessary skills and experience to handle the job they’re applying for. In many cases, this information is also used to differentiate two or more equally qualified applicants. So, these aren’t just little fibs that won’t have an impact on the company: these “embellishments” could easily snowball into bigger, systemic problems down the road.

Just imagine what else they may be covering up:

  • Criminal convictions
  • Previous firing
  • Jail time
  • Registered sex offender status

The repercussions of this kind of deceit can be even more dangerous.

How are companies impacted by intentional fabrications on resumes?

These falsehoods can lead a company to waste large amounts of time and money rejecting a skilled worker while training and developing an unqualified and undesirable applicant. Even more alarmingly, hiring applicants who have lied on their resumes can also expose an organization to legal problems.

In some cases, hiring one of these applicants can expose current employees and customers to safety concerns, or create ethical challenges that could have been avoided.

Finally, the company’s brand and reputation are at stake if an employee does some sort of harm, not to mention the reputation of the HR department or hiring manager who believed the lie and brought that person on in the first place.

While the individual submitting falsified information on their resume can face legal repercussions too, it’s really the employer who has the most to lose.

What can you do to avoid these risks?

Unfortunately, there’s no way to avoid receiving falsified resumes. In this competitive job market, and with human nature being what it is, that will never change.

So, the best thing any organization can do to avoid falling victim to deceitful applicants is to diligently establish and maintain a rigorous background check procedure. This procedure needs to be thorough, including:

This isn’t easy for a busy HR department to handle in-house, as can be gathered from the CareerBuilder survey:

“Most employers (86 percent) typically have more than one employee review candidates’ resumes, with 65 percent saying two or three people go over each resume. Twenty-one percent say resumes are reviewed by four or more employees before a decision is made.”

Difficult as it may be, though, it’s vitally important.

One simple and smart way to ensure all applicants receive this kind of comprehensive background check is to choose an experienced and qualified background screening company to handle the busy work for you.

Contact NationSearch today and download our FAQ eBook to learn how easy and affordable protecting yourself can be.

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Topics: Helpful HR Resources, Original Features, Background Screening Education

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