How to Avoid Resume Fraud When Hiring

UPS March 20

Committed, competent employees are an integral part of any successful business, big or small. In an earlier blog, we gave you a guideline on how to hire the right people.

Finding qualified candidates to fill your vacancies can take up a whole lot of time, so you won’t want to waste too much of it on people who don’t fit the bill. As such, it’s important to screen job seekers from their resumes, weeding out unwanted applicants long before sitting them down for a face-to-face assessment.

Unfortunately, many resumes aren’t exactly reliable when it comes to providing an accurate, trustworthy account of a candidate’s record. In fact, studies suggest more than half of all job seekers lie or exaggerate on their CV, with some pegging the number of fraudulent resumes at a whopping 80 per cent.

With deceit and disinformation so rampant, what can be done to tackle resume fraud? Here are some tips that will help you separate fact from fiction when making your next hire.

Get a second set of eyes on each resume

The more resumes you look at, the more your eyes tend to glaze over, which is when questionable details can slip through the cracks. Appoint a trusted deputy as your resume editor and have them give each CV a second look. Treat resumes the same way you would an important proposal you’re submitting to a client – you want as many people as possible to take a look at it, searching for any hint of inconsistencies or errors.

 Watch out for weasel words

Pay close attention to the language people use on resumes, especially when it comes to descriptions of responsibilities and achievements. Resume writing typically has its own jargon, with candidates often relying on business buzzwords to try and beef up their image. Some will overstate their level of input on a particular project or make boastful claims in order to emphasize their leadership qualities. If the wording seems vague, or the level of responsibility exceeds the applicant’s position and experience, red-flag the section for further review.

Drill down for details about training and experience

Candidates will occasionally list skills they don’t possess or ones they haven’t put into practice in a work environment in order to get their resume noticed by recruiters and hiring managers. Prevent applicants from getting away with these kinds of falsehoods by following up via the telephone before bringing them in for an interview. Use pointed questions to determine where and when skills were learned, and how and when they were applied. This approach will help you learn the difference between someone who simply attended a training course, and someone who put that training into practice on the job every day. If the skills in question are particularly technical or complicated, consider bringing in a colleague who understands them better than you to carry out the screening.

Keep tabs on timelines

Besides looking for suspicious gaps in an applicant’s employment history, take care to keep tabs on potential faults in the dates of past experiences. For the sake of specificity, most candidates will list the months in which they started and finished a job or assignment, so beware of those who don’t – it’s a tricky way of turning a short-term position into something that sounds longer. For instance, a candidate who worked somewhere from September until the following April might list both years on their resume, making the job seem as though it lasted two years, not eight months.

Check out any questionable employers and educational institutions

Do some online research to get more information about the university or college that your applicant claims to have attended, and make sure it’s not a dodgy online diploma mill. Consider contacting the school to ensure the person actually graduated and didn’t drop out before finishing. Treat any past employers you’ve never heard of with the same degree of caution – check them out online and try to contact someone at the business for further details, if necessary.

While you’re doing your online sleuthing, take a look at the candidate’s profile on LinkedIn and make sure it matches up with what’s on their resume. Type your applicant’s name into Google and see what it spits out, then make sure it matches their claims.

Go beyond the references

For obvious reasons, job seekers tend to list references they know will provide a positive review of their abilities. Try to find someone else who has worked with the applicant and is willing to give you an unvarnished opinion of their skills and performance. Consider asking the candidate to provide the name of their immediate superior from a previous job, if that person isn’t already listed.

Give people a chance to explain

As we all know, to err is human and you may occasionally come across an applicant whose resumes contains an honest mistake. Ask the person to explain whatever discrepancy you’ve found and pay attention to the manner in which they respond – their reaction is likely to give you a good read on their character and integrity.

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