Hiring managers and résumé advisers say that job candidates are taking more creative license than ever when listing their credentials. A new six-month review by RésuméDoctor.com found that almost 43% of résumés sampled contained significant factual errors. At best, people are exaggerating the good and glossing over the bad, while some would-be hires are outright lying in hopes of landing their dream jobs.
Problem is, a surprising number of employers simply aren’t checking closely enough. So what are some of the warning signs they should look for? And what parts of a résumé should job-seekers be extra careful with? We asked the experts to weigh in with their best advice for combating what many describe as a growing problem.
Educational background. These days, bogus diplomas are just a Google search away. Keep in mind, even legitimate degrees from online programs may not carry same weight as brick-and-mortar institutions. Confirm any degrees listed with the school’s registrar’s office. And beware -- just because a candidate lists four years at a particular school doesn’t mean he or she actually graduated.
Dates of employment. It’s easy to fudge the numbers -- "2004-2005" very easily could mean December 2004 to January 2005. To ensure that a candidate really has the experience he or she is claiming, confirm all dates with previous employers listed for at least the past three years.
Job titles and descriptions. Not sure what an “Associate Vice President for Development is? There might be a good reason. Titles and descriptions vary from company to company and have a lot of wiggle room, meaning a job-seeker may gamble, assuming nobody will follow up. While you’re checking dates of employment, find out exactly what the person was doing during his or her time there.
Awards and accomplishments. On-the-job awards look nice on paper, but a candidate may be claiming credit for a project 50 people worked on. That doesn’t necessarily discount it altogether, but it’s worth following up, to clarify exactly what his or her role was in the accomplishment.
Squirming. While it’s not always possible, an in-person interview can be an essential part of the hiring process, because it provides an opportunity to ask questions about what’s presented on a résumé. Sure, people make honest mistakes in their job applications, but if their answers fall short of what’s on paper, you might have a fibber on your hands.