How Normal Is It To Lie on a Resume?

In almost every industry, submitting a resume is a standard part of the job application process. It is the fastest way for you as an employer to get to know the basic facts about an applicant. What are their qualifications? Where did they go to school, and where have they worked in the past? What accomplishments do they have? When you decide to bring in a candidate for an interview, the information within the resume can serve as an important basis for questions.

Unfortunately, that information might not be true.

While most business owners would like to assume that every resume they receive is generally reliable, multiple studies and surveys conducted over the years reveal that may not be true. One study found that more than 80% of employers had caught lies on resumes. A recent survey by ResumeLab revealed that 93% of respondents said they knew someone who lied on a resume.

For employers, this presents a frustrating challenge.

Are Applicants Outright Lying, or Just Stretching the Truth?

At first glance, it might not seem important to differentiate between lies and embellishments—both are falsehoods, after all. However, some lies are easier for an employer to uncover than others. For example, someone may embellish the duties of a prior job, or claim accomplishments in that position related to specific projects. Contacting a former employer for a reference check may not put you in contact with someone who has direct knowledge the individual's history—and a company may not wish to disclose such information anyway.

However, it is easier to uncover outright lies, such as when an applicant claims to have a degree they did not earn, or when their claims about past work experience don't align with reality. Even if it seems like a majority of people aren't fully truthful on their resumes, employers do have recourse.

What Can Employers Do About the Problem?

Conducting verification during the hiring process is an important step every employer should consider. For example, education verification can be a simple process. Universities and colleges are generally happy to confirm someone's enrollment status, dates of attendance, and the level of degree they obtained for inquiring employers and their representatives.

Likewise, confirming past employment is a matter of due diligence no employer should overlook—and it can't hurt to ask about specifics that seem suspicious, even if you receive no answer. Don’t just take an applicant’s word for what an employment verification can confirm for sure.

Evaluating Resumes in the Right Light

With many people scrambling to fill open positions, lying on a resume may seem to applicants like a necessary step to compete. For employers, though, it is a signal that more diligence is necessary to protect the business and to hire the right people. With verification checks that include education, employers, reference verification, and even professional license and certification verification, uncovering lies—or confirming the truth—is easier. In today's job market, that effort is increasingly no longer optional.

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Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments

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