{{1290 post}}

Resume fraud: How to spot the lie in the job description

According to a Checkster survey of 400 applicants and 400 hiring managers, HR professionals, and recruiters, 78% of applicants have resume fraud or misrepresent themselves in their job applications. As an HR manager, you can ask: Who can you trust? The point of this blog post is not to force you to suspect each candidate and bombard them with tricky questions but to show how to check the candidate’s background to mitigate the risk of hiring the wrong person. Let’s start.

Resume and background check: Why It’s Crucial to Screen Candidates

Recruiting has a lot of challenges, and resume fraud is one of them. Hands down, almost everyone has lied in their resume to some degree. In some cases, it was just an «embellishment» or exaggeration of small details nobody will ever notice. But there are many situations when candidates add false information about their qualifications, job experience, and skills that may cost your company money and reputation. Believe it or not, it is estimated that resume fraud costs U.S. businesses $600 billion annually.

Resume fraud has many negative impacts, such as damaging candidates’ chances to build future networking connections. Also, applicants can be liable for civil damages if their lying created legal issues for their employer. Even more seriously, candidates can face criminal charges depending on what they’ve lied about.

To prevent these issues, HR specialists need to thoroughly check candidates’ experience and background before hiring to protect the company from serious problems.

Fraud examples: Here’s what you need to know

Here are the most common examples of resume fraud according to Scribendi:

  • False documents (degrees, licenses, and other training certificates).
  • Fictitious former or present employers or work experiences.
  • Providing names and contact information of a friend or relative, giving false reviews, as references.
  • Citing exaggerated claims about an actual position held.

So why do people lie on their resumes? According to a Resume lab survey, respondents listed the following reasons:

  • A long period of unemployment (37%)
  • Wanted a higher salary for the position (18%)
  • Didn’t think they would get caught (18%)
  • Not qualified for the position (17%)

And the worst fact here is that only 30% of people who lie on their resume ever get caught. So most of the candidates get away with lying. Unfortunately, there is no database of candidates who always lie to HR managers, but hiring candidates who lie can be prevented. How? With the help of a candidate background check.

How to check people for their background and skills

To detect people lying about employment history, licenses, and skills, you need to perform a background check. Here is what it includes:

Employment verification

HR specialists should always verify the candidate’s employment history to ensure that all the information about the job title, salary, and experience is accurate. So, how to check someones background? Such information is very easy to find online on company profiles on LinkedIn, company websites, social media, or other online platforms. Don’t forget to Google the applicants. Thus, carefully check the candidate’s social media accounts, blogs, and personal websites to find more information about this person.


Also, you may purchase an online background check of a candidate if you don’t have time to do it manually. For example, HR managers can purchase detailed reports to validate past work experience, degrees acquired, wages earned, criminal records, and current certifications. Sometimes, it’s better to pay and be confident in the candidate’s background.

Another way to do the people facts employment screening is to perform a backdoor reference check. Some recruiters choose to secretly contact ex-colleagues (not recommended by the applicants) and ask them about the candidate’s performance and skills.

Application screening takes a lot of time, so make sure to automate this process and screen applicants faster and more efficiently.

«Protect your business by having policies in place that guide your team through the recruitment process and the entire employee lifecycle. By understanding the risks in your organization, you can pinpoint what types of people facts background screening are appropriate for different roles. You may decide to look at the critical tasks and responsibilities of each role and work out what is reasonable in these circumstances.»

Equifax Partnerships Manager, Angus Nicholls.

References check

Nowadays, many websites provide counterfeit job reference letters and people who serve as a reference for a fee.

«When you consider the sheer number of fake references out there, adding an automated reference checking system to your hiring process is a no-brainer. When you dig down and ask people to provide precise examples of their employment history, this is when holes in their stories often appear» says Nicholls.

Here are the best practices for checking the candidate’s references:

  • Inform the candidate that you will check the references. It will help ensure that they give truthful answers during the interview.
  • Ask candidates what their former employers are likely to say about them. It will be a good starting point for your reference checks.
  • Perform the job reference check yourself, and don’t delegate it.

Here are the questions you may ask:

  • What were the candidate’s primary responsibilities?
  • What are their most impressive skills or qualities?
  • What was their most significant accomplishment?
  • What additional training could they benefit from?
  • How did they respond to constructive criticism?
  • Would you rehire them? Why or why not?
  • What are their weaknesses?
  • Is there anyone else you’d suggest I speak with?

Situational questions

Recruiters should dive deep into the candidate’s work experience during the interview and ask for situational examples to back their claims. Screening calls also give valuable information about the person’s qualifications. Ask applicants to elaborate on some item that looks questionable on their resume. If they can’t, you may have spotted a liar.

Remember that people tend to exaggerate. So, focus on what really matters for the position.

«While not all the resume information may be 100% true, it may be more important to focus on what you need and see if that’s included. If someone has the majority of what you’re looking for but has fudged a bit on something irrelevant, it might be worth overlooking.»

Emily Parra, HR practice leader at StratEx

How to verify degrees of the candidate with real-world tests?

So how do companies verify degrees of a candidate? Through an education background check, employers can check the following:

  • An applicant’s degree, diploma, or credentials
  • Their graduation or completion date
  • Their major
  • The accrediting body of the institution

Companies can also use a third-party partner to run the education background check by gathering the following information from the applicant:

  • The name of the candidate when they attended and graduated from the institution
  • The institution’s name and full address
  • The dates they attended
  • The name of their degree they acquired
  • A copy of the physical diploma, certificate, or degree
  • A copy of their transcripts
  • A copy of the signed authorization release

Then, this information is shared with the background screening provider to use and obtain the education history of your candidate.

How to check people with the help of blockchain: The future of HR

There are a lot of AI recruitment tools that will help you resolve a lot of recruitment challenges. But have you ever heard of blockchain as the newest tool in the HR toolbox? Blockchain technology can eliminate exaggeration in the resume. How? Schools can post degrees and educational details, employers can share dates and titles, and credentialing entities can make information available. Candidates can then access their records directly.

The key is a reliable source, says Steve Chen, EchoLink project founder: «Blockchain can be used to provide verified education and skill information if the data sources are verified. i.e. if we know degree info is put on the blockchain by universities and not users themselves, then such information would have a high degree of integrity.»

Need Employa to advance your tech recruiting?

Whether you need a recruitment service or upgrade existing recruitment software, Employa is ready to help.

All articles