7 Ways To Nix Hiring Flukes & Catch Resume Lies

Today’s job market is tough. The May jobs report indicated only 69,000 jobs were created in May, well below the anticipated 165,000.

Now add to that the fact that some two million individuals will accept their bachelor’s degrees as the Class of 2012, expecting to receive cushy full-time jobs with health and vacation benefits. What’s left? An onrush of fish attempting to squeeze inside the sippy cup-size sea that is available jobs.

Common Resume Lies Or Mistruths

In times of economic stress, applicants are more likely to fudge the truth on their resumes, allowing themselves to appear more desirable to someone in an HR profession. Business Insider recently quoted behavioral experts who claim 31 percent of people lie on their resume.

Common resume lies or mistruths include padding dates to mask employment gaps, exaggerating job titles or salary, and like Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson, falsifying academic degrees. (See other famous leaders undone by resume fraud.)

No Need To Mind Read

As a recruiter, it is your responsibility to see through the resume lies, nixing the flukes early in the search process. But how?

Most HR professionals aren’t mind readers, so I’ve compiled a list of simple steps recruiters can take to ensure they’re hiring candidates who are experienced, dedicated, and most importantly, honest:

  • Complete Traditional Resume Research.  Contact the university where the candidate claimed to have received a degree. Does the university have record of the candidate? Did the university offer its program at the time the candidate claims to have graduated? Complete calls to former employers. Ensure the candidate’s employment timelines and salary claims are truthful.
  •  Research Social Media Sites.  Nearly everything is accessible on the Internet. Search for the candidate on LinkedIn. If he has a profile, compare the online and paper resumes. Are they nearly identical? Search for red flags on the candidate’s social media profiles. Check to see if he badmouthed a former boss or was highly active during normal business hours.  (Read more about social media background checks and their benefits & pitfalls.)
  • Ensure References Are Credible.  Some fluke hires will promote friends or family to high level positions in nonexistent companies, then list them as references on their resumes. You must not only call a candidate’s references, but also ensure they are credible. Research the company online. Is it real? Does the person listed on the resume actually work there? If you can’t find your answer for sure online, try calling the company’s generic number and ask to be connected with the reference by name.
  • Ask The Candidate For Specifics.  Flukes will pad their resumes with a generic fact like, “Honored as a ‘Who’s Who in Business’ by an influential paper.” Ask the candidate for the specific paper. Oftentimes that influential paper turns out to be a hometown circular. (And we all know the Who’s Who lists are just in business to sell books, anyway!)
  • Listen To What They Say In The Interview.  Always bring a candidate’s resume with you to an interview. During the interview, pay careful attention to the candidate’s body language when checking items on the resume. Does he attempt to sneak a glance at your paper when you ask his last date of employment? Also pay close attention to verbal cues. Many candidates are nervous during interviews, causing higher vocal pitches. But candidates who have fudged facts will have voice quivers to accompany their falsetto.
  • Test Their Claims.  Many HR professionals use keyword searching to find and qualify the resumes they receive. Knowing this, some applicants may include keywords for all skills required for a position without actually possessing those skills. Find out if they’re embellishing by asking specific technical questions about the skills they claim to have.
  • Perform A Full Background Check.  Always, always, always perform a full background check, drug test, and pre-employment screening process before extending a job to a candidate. You don’t want to end up tied in legal issues with a fluke a few weeks down the road.

Catch Candidates Lying on Resumes

Scandals aside, there are honest, qualified fish in the job market sea. The steps I’ve outlined will help you nix the floundering flukes and catch the right candidate!

Have you ever caught a candidate fudging the truth on his resume? How did you nix the fluke?

Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011), #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.

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Heather Huhman

Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended.

Reader Interactions


  1. Ronald Kerns says

    Not sure what to think about the “Listen To What They Say In The Interview” part…

    All of what was described there…actually sounds like what I sound like in an interview. But, it’s NOT because I am “lying” or I am “fudging” (i am actually quite accomplished, and have won numerous industry awards in the 20 years I have been a graphic designer)….but, I do cope with Asperger’s Syndrome, the autism spectrum disorder. I am unusually ‘nervous’, and have a high-level of anxiety, in most any interviewing situation (or many types of “social”/business situations). I exhibit subtle, but unusual, “body language”, and stutter often.

    This article here…makes my actions and ‘verbal cues’ appear to be something entirely different.

    And, with social media sites….sure, employees may be on there extensively during “business hours”….perhaps that particular employer encourages their use (personally, I interact daily with Adobe Systems on Facebook and LinkedIn often…it’s part of my job). While it’s understood that a potential employer may discourage use of “social media” during the day…that doesn’t necessarily mean the candidate is doing anything wrong at their current employer. They just may be doing what they are supposed to be doing.



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